Heal Zimbabwe statement on the enactment of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Act.
Heal Zimbabwe applauds President Mnangagwa for signing into law the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Act on 05 January 2018. We welcome the move to operationalize the NPRC which was long overdue since the adoption of the constitution in 2013. Heal Zimbabwe has been on record calling on Government to enact an enabling legislation that operationalizes the NPRC. HZT also takes pride in the fact that the enactment of the Act into law comes at a time the organization has aggressively advocated for the full operationalization of the Commission with the latest initiative being the statement sent on 02 January 2018 imploring the President to sign the NPRC Bill 2017 to ensure the Independent Commission fulfils its constitutional mandate of promoting post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation.
From its formative stages, Heal Zimbabwe has campaigned and advocated aggressively for the establishment of an Independent Commission in the form of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) by initiating an array of public awareness and advocacy initiatives. Over the years, the organization raised awareness on the importance of operationalizing the Independent Commission using various initiatives that include collaborative neutral platforms, NPRC information kiosks, clean up and door to door campaigns, public meetings, training workshops, Youths Sports for Peace, Community interface dialogues and memorialization projects among others. These activities helped citizens to become engaged and pro-active in calling for the full operationalization of the NPRC.
Added to this in 2011, Heal Zimbabwe facilitated for survivors of political violence to petition the then Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) to initiate an inclusive healing and reconciliation process. In the subsequent years that followed, Heal Zimbabwe then conducted several Provincial Survivors Summits under its memorialization programme to afford survivors of political violence to add their voice to the discourse on national healing and reconciliation.
In 2016 and 2017, HZT successfully mobilized citizens to add their voice to the NPRC draft bill during Parliamentary hearings. It is at these hearings that citizens rejected both bills on the basis that they ignored key reconciliation issues. For example, both draft bills were not clear on issues of compensation for victims of political violence. The Bills also failed to clearly highlight how the NPRC would deal with key reconciliation issues such as Operation Murambatsvina and Gukurahundi among other issues. In the same years, the organization also compiled a baseline report on the nature and format the healing and reconciliation process should take. Various stakeholders were engaged in coming up with the report. Heal Zimbabwe believes in a bottom- up approach to healing and reconciliation, a process that is inclusive of people from every level of society. The Unity Accord signed between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU in 1987 is testament to the fact that an elitist reconciliation peace deal cannot provide long lasting and wholesome solutions to reconciliation. The emotive Gukurahundi issue, even today, continues to dominate debates 31 years after the Unity Accord was signed.
Heal Zimbabwe; however, notes that while the Act incorporated some amendments raised during the public hearings across the country, there remains serious provisions in the Act which were not repealed to incorporate the public concerns. For example, Section 10 of the Act empowers the Minister of national security to block an investigation by issuing a certificate blocking disclosure of evidence and documentation that he/she may deem to be prejudicial to the defense, external relations, internal security or economic interests of the State. Citizens rejected this provision during the public hearings. (HZT shall release a detailed analysis of the Act vis a vis expectations of victims.)
In light of the enactment of the NPRC Act, Heal Zimbabwe implores the NPRC to:
- Ensure a people centered bottom- up Peace, Truth, Justice and Reconciliation process brought through an all stakeholders’ consultation process.
- The NPRC must carry out robust programmes that seek to prevent conflicts and to promote peace before, during and after the 2018 elections.
- The NPRC must set up an early warning system in partnership with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and churches for early detection of areas of potential conflicts and disputes, and to take appropriate preventive measures.
- Facilitate Community specific models for truth recovery.
- Assure the security of witnesses during the public hearings.
- Craft, recommend and implement policies and legislation which will facilitate institutional reform, restorative justice, truth recovery and truth-telling and establishment of community and national memorials.
- Ensure and facilitate the documentation and sharing of multiple narratives of Zimbabwe’s history.
- Facilitate psychosocial support to victims of violence.