Building Peace from the Inside: Supporting Insider Mediation for Sustainable Transformation of Conflict Phase 2

Africa University and the Berghof Foundation held a four-day workshop themed Building Peace from the Inside: Supporting Insider Mediation for Sustainable Transformation of Conflict Phase 2 at the Holiday Inn in Harare. This Insider Mediator’s strategic planning workshop ran from the 21st to the 24th of November 2023.

The Insider Mediator Network in Zimbabwe currently consists of 48 insider mediators (IM) from all over the country, ranging from governmental, civil society, and faith-based actors. Over half of them are women and 30% consist of youth. This network was established by the Berghof Foundation and Africa University in 2021 with the goal of building capacity on mediation, negotiation, and dialogue, as well as other topics relevant to IMs and creating space in which the IMs can exchange their experiences and expertise and work together to become more effective in their work.

“I would want to point out that, for the first time both returning and new Insider Mediators have gathered from the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe and that is a great sign of our shared commitment to establish and maintain peace everywhere,” said Professor Pamela Machakanja AU Interim DVC as she delivered welcome remarks on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Rev. Professor Peter Mageto.

The objectives of the workshop were to strengthen the relationships between the IMs in the network and enhance their collaboration in mediation activities, to enhance the capacities of the IMs in finance and grant management, advocacy, communication and active listening, to enhance the awareness and understanding of the IMs of the importance of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support Services (MHPSS) and give them tools to manage stress better in their work as IMs. Also to enable the IMs to strategically plan together their mediation activities related to conflict resolution, conflict transformation and development-related issues and to connect the IMs with important domestic and international actors.

A commemoration dinner was held in honour of the European Union delegation that comprised Deputy Ambassador Lourdes Chamorro and Programme Manager Governance Team Laurence Ouvard. They were very impressed with the work being done by Africa University and the Berghof Foundation. The delegation got a chance to interact with the Berghof Foundation Project Manager Mrs. Nura Detweiler, the Berghof Foundation Head of the Sub-Saharan Unit, Ms. Victoria Cochrane, and the Africa University team led by the Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pamela Machakanja.

Programme Manager Governance Team Laurence Ouvard attended the presentations on the ensuing day. With much delight, she attested to the relevance of the content delivered and how it would improve the efficacy of the IMs in the execution of their duties.

Upon completion, the participants received a certificate of competence. 16 participants in the new cohort were presented with the certificates by Professor Pamela Machakanja and Mrs. Nura Detwiler. Billian Matambo, Founder and Chairperson of the Marange Women’s Alliance said, “We have learned many new things and we are going to use the new techniques and skills such as active listening to enhance our strategies and approach to mediation.”

Egnes Nhengo representing the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development said, “The program was very enriching and I benefitted a lot. I am going to advance issues of conflict resolution and intervention. I will collaborate with my other Mediators to effectively execute our plans with desired outcomes.”

 “Africa University and Berghof Foundation should not only end here but they should go on to unroll this programme to the youth across the content of Africa.” said Sakhi Ncube, a Programmes Officer with the Community Youth Development Trust in Gwanda.

Africa University is already ahead of the curve as we are a student-centered University offering courses like the MSc in Negotiation and Mediation as well as the MSc in International Relations and Diplomacy. These programmes amongst others go a long way towards the development of capable leadership for the continent. This Insider Mediation Workshop was funded by the Finnish Government.