REPRESENTATIVES of various local universities yesterday told Parliament that they were involved in peace-building initiatives and had done researches on civic and military engagements during Operation Restore Order at Chiadzwa diamond fields.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Speaking before the Damian Mumvuri-led Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security, representatives of Africa University (AU), the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) and Midlands State University (MSU) claimed that they were involved in resolving human and wildlife conflicts.
However, some of the universities said their research projects were hampered by the country’s polarised political environment.
“In our researches, we at times find it difficult to partner with local and international partners due to the country’s image in politics, and at times it is difficult to get information for research on peace and governance because we are operating in a polarised political environment and there is not enough information granted,” Charles Pfukwa, dean of the social sciences and humanities at BUSE said.
“In our research, we look at how violence has been happening in the continent, conflicts surrounding diamonds in Marange, the roles of traditional leaders and MPs in conflict resolution, early child marriages, and even wildlife conflicts where recently baboons where shocking people in Victoria Falls.”
AU is the first university to offer peace and security studies and their representative Thomas Masasa, which said their research on peace and conflict in Zimbabwe also covered issues of touts causing havoc in commuter omnibus operations.
“With the new dispensation, there are new areas that are emerging and these also need to be on the agenda of teaching about peace and conflict so that people understand how the citizens worked with the military during the process,” Masasa said.
The ZOU dean of the faculty of social sciences, Thomas Kaputa said his university was also doing research on issues such as conflicts and how it affected women and children, land mines and their effects.
“Universities are disturbed that the preaching of peace is from top to bottom and that it is not included in the primary schools curriculum. It must be part of the school curriculum so that we catch them young,” Kaputa said.
MSU deputy dean of social sciences, Zvenyika Mugari said his department had assisted the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission in different research on peace and governance. He said the freeze on posts at universities was affecting teaching of peace and governance studies.