Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
COVID-19 has become a threat to peace and citizens should embrace dialogue as the only viable tool of addressing conflicts.

The pandemic has disrupted livelihoods and forced nations to adjust to new ways of living to halt new infections.

The global pandemic has increased strife in communities and some people have tried to cause friction among warring parties.

Gender-based violence and political contestations among other divisive issues have increased.

Speaking during the Churches Convergence on Peace organised International Day of Peace in Bulawayo on Monday, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) said Covid-19 has shown the globe that humans do not need to be at war with each other.

The event was attended by church and community leaders.

NPRC commissioner Leslie Ncube, who was speaking through a representative, said this year’s commemorations running under the theme: “Shaping Peace Together” should see the world uniting against the attempts to use Covid-19 to promote discrimination and hatred.

“This year, it has been clearer than ever before that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. Covid-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere,” said Comm Ncube.

“As we struggle to defeat Covid-19, your voice is more important than ever. In these difficult times of physical distancing, this International Day of Peace will be dedicated to fostering dialogue and collection of ideas. All of us should unite and share thoughts on how to weather this storm, heal our Zimbabwe and change it for the better.”

Speaking during the same event, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commissioner Bulawayo officer Ms Sindiso Nkomo, said dialogue remains the only viable option in addressing Covid-19-induced challenges.

She said Covid-19 has left communities more vulnerable and called for sustainable peace.

“Sustaining peace promotes a holistic approach in integrating all three pillars of the United Nation’s engagement which are human rights, peace, security, and development. This can help not only in containing the immediate consequences of conflict but also in preventing the outbreak of violence by addressing the root causes of conflict,” she said.

Ms Nkomo said it was critical to detect conflicts at an early stage to prevent instability within nations.

One of the event’s organisers and Zimbabwe Christian Alliance executive director Reverend Useni Sibanda said Covid-19 has brought many challenges affecting peace in society.

He said churches would be engaging communities to foster peace at grassroot level.

Zimbabwe Council of Churches president Mr Bishop Khanye said there is need to engage communities to encourage co-existence as most people seemed angry and frustrated.

As a symbol of peace, participants held lit candles. — @nqotshili.