Mr Peter Liwanda of Chinhoyi Residents Trust presented on Zimbabweâ€™s history of conflict and violence and subsequent attempts for reconciliation while Heal Zimbabwe Trust provided an analysis of the NPRC Bill and its observations on the Billâ€™s shortcomings.
Chinhoyi residents at the meeting raised the following concerns about the Bill:
- The powers of the Minister are too much to allow independence of the Commission by virtue of having powers to issue a certificate of non-disclosure. He is a political appointee who could act in a partisan manner hence compromising the independence of the commission.
- The Chairperson of the Commission Mr Cyril Ndebele used to be a ZANU PF member with a history of being appointed by the President. Therefore, his neutrality could be doubtful.Â Instead, they preferred a Church Leader or a person who has never held a political office.
- The genuineness of the NPRC was also doubted given that there are other Commissions since 1980 and their recommendations.
- On Investigations, the current Bill criminalizes the victim. It makes it difficult for people who were victimized to present their cases with all the supporting evidence. Section 8(7) is not clear on what factors the Minister will take into consideration when issuing a Certificate.
- The Bill does not indicate or acknowledge the number of languages that will be used during enquiries and acknowledging the fact that there are people who may not be able to write.
- The Bill lacks sincerity and clarity on what the Commission will consider as the â€œpast,â€ â€œhuman rights violations, â€œinadequate/false evidenceâ€ among many other terms.
- The Bill is silent on corrective measures that will be taken when someone is proven guilty of committing human rights violations.
- For the purposes of facilitating economic justice / healing, the Bill is silent on helping bankers, pensioners and the public who lost their savings in banks and insurance policies during the countryâ€™s hyperinflation and dollarization periods.
Marondera NPRC Public Awareness Campaign
On the 22nd of March 2016, Heal Zimbabwe conducted a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) public awareness meeting in Marondera at Mbuya Nehanda Hall (Dombotombo). The meeting was attended by 104 community members, 70 of them being women and 34 men. The meeting was meant to raise communitiesâ€™ awareness about the NPRC functions and the contents of the NPRC Bill that was gazetted on December 18, 2015. Presenters at the meeting including Mr Vivid Gwede of ZIMRIGHTS, a Human Rights Defender Mr Mujeyi and Heal Zimbabwe spoke about the History of violence and attempts of reconciliation in Zimbabwe, NPRC functions and the contents of the NPRC Bill. A plenary to gather peopleâ€™s views was also done. Below are some of the issues that were raised by the participants:
- Considering that the Minister is appointed by the President, how impartial will he/she will be?
- Advertising the cases to be investigated will alert those reported and there will be insecurity to the victim who would have reported the case. Therefore, how will the NPRC ensure that the victim is secure and that the accused will not escape justice?
- The Commission must also utilize the findings of past commissions such as the Dumbutshena and Chihambakwe, Sandura, and Nziramasanga Commissions. It must not only wait for complaints for it to carry out investigations and hide the reports of their findings.
- There should be a mechanism of ensuring that the NPRC investigates cases that are also in the courts. Some reported cases are still stuck in the courts and a lot are still within police ambits, impeding justice and healing.
- The Bill does not explicitly state how the NPRC will ensure economic healing. People lost a lot of money in insurance policies, banks and pensions around the dollarization process.
- The NPRC must be genuine enough to promote forgiveness and reconciliation through truth telling. It must not repeat what the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI).
- What if the Minister is involved in some of the cases that will be reported to NPRC? Are there measures to evaluate the work of the NPR