|The last hearing on the National Peace and Reconciliation (NPRC) bill was held today in Harare at Parliament building in the Senate Chambers. Approximately 115 people attended the hearing. The hearing allowed Harare residents to scrutinize and make submissions on the bill.
The hearing in Harare, just like previous hearings saw the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs failing to provide copies of the bill to participants before the hearing. The Committee had to assign the arduous task of summarizing the bill to Honourable Jessie Majome.
The most dominant issues that came out during the meeting revolved around the vast powers given to the Minister of National Healing who has sweeping powers that see him issuing a certificate to prevent a hearing and is the only one with the discretion to approve funding for the Commission. Other issues raised include the use of prosecuting language in the bill which scares away people from reporting their cases and failure by the bill to clearly state how justice will be achieved for those whose rights were violated.
Below are some of the views raised during the hearing:
a) The bill reduces the Commission to an Executive Commission where the Minister enjoys excessive powers.
b) The bill doesn’t encourage truth telling and it contradicts several provisions in the constitution.
c) The bill uses too much prosecuting language which scares away victims.
d) The bill ignores the role of Traditional mechanisms in peace building and reconciliation.
e) How will the bill deal with those who lost their savings and jobs?
f) The Minister is a politician, this compromises the work of the NPRC.
g) The bill fails to acknowledge the importance of reparations and neglects the key role played by the church in reconciliation and healing.
h) The bill should be clear on the issue of periodization and should highlight violence prevention measures.
i) The bill should protect the victim and not the perpetrator.
j) The bill should clearly define the type of peace to be achieved by the Commission and elaborate clearly the types of violations the Commission will entertain.
k) How will the bill deal with those in the Diaspora who had their rights violated?
l) The bill should deal with Gukurahundi and violations that took place during the colonial era.
m) The bill should investigate all political parties that continue to perpetuate violence.
n) The bill should bar security personnel from intimidating people in rural areas.
o) The bill should guard against disregard of the constitution particularly by the Executive.
p) The bill should encourage Traditional leaders to promote peace.
q) The bill must compel Government to fully fund the NPRC for it to work effectively.
r) Government should issue a public apology for the delays in setting up the NPRC.
s) The bill should empower the Commission to be independent.
t) The NPRC must be decentralized.
u) Why hasn’t government utilized the findings from previous Commissions such as the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe?
In his concluding remarks, Honourable Nyambuya assured participants that all the views collated during all the hearings shall be used to compile a comprehensive report on the bill which will be used during the debate on the bill in Parliament.
The public hearing on the bill have concluded against a background where Heal Zimbabwe, between January and March 2016, conducted 13 public meetings and 67 consultative meetings with 1 235 people on the Bill targeting marginalized communities that were most affected by violence and conflicts. The objective of the public meetings was to enhance public participation and input to the Bill. The organisation shall also release a preliminary report by end of this week on the public hearings.