|Heal Zimbabwe expresses grave concern at government’s plans to disband the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and the Zimbabwe Gender Commissions (ZGC). The government is mulling subsuming the core functions of these commissions under the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) supposedly as part of a drive to eliminate the duplication of roles.
During an interview with the Sunday Mail (31March 2019) the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi revealed that the government was considering creating special interest commissioners that will focus specifically on the roles that are exercised by both the NPRC and ZGC.”Strictly speaking, a gender commission is a human rights commission, so you cannot have a gender commission which is separated from a human rights commission…An economy like ours cannot afford or sustain two commissions that do basically the same things. Our thinking is that we have two commissions chewing into the fiscus but doing the same thing. We would rather have one commission which has those commissioners and probably within the secretariat…: he said.
While the justification by government to disband the two commission makes fiscal sense, it however neglects the fact that the Chapter 12 commissions particularly the NPRC was born out of the realization by citizens that Zimbabwe has a history of conflict which requires an uncompromised holistic healing and reconciliation process that facilitates sustainable peace. Added to this, the NPRC is a representation of citizens’ views on what they want in as far as healing and reconciliation is concerned. Disbanding it or merging it with any other commission is a blatant disregard and betrayal of people’s views expressed through the people driven constitution. Heal Zimbabwe notes that such a move by government exposes its insincerity on healing and reconciliation issues. It also reveals a sinister motive by government to disregard a violent history that must only be addressed through the facilitation and guidance of commission such as the NPRC. To worsen matters, the suggestion to disband the Commissions comes at a time the government has not honoured the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission regarding the victims of the 01 August 2018 shootings in Harare by members of the security forces.
In light of this, Heal Zimbabwe implores government to suspend plans to disband the NPRC and respect the constitution that clearly provides for the NPRC in Chapter 12. As a constitutional body, the NPRC must without delay initiate a robust process of ensuring post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation as provided for in Section 252 (a) of the constitution. The government should rather prudently move to realign the remaining laws with the constitution to prevent a constitutional crisis arising from legislations that are not consistent with the Constitution.