Natioinal Peace and Reconciliation Bill Commentary

The following Bulawayo Organisations having met on 27 January 2016 to set the minimum standards regarding the content, process and framework for national peace and reconciliation Zimbabwe. The organisations will therefore urge government to amend the NPR Bill to give effect to the provisions of Section 252 of Constitution.
The Organisations have noted that the Bill falls short of the minimum standards (International Best Practise) .The Following were noted:

• The Constitution establishes an NPRC that is accountable to Parliament; the Bill proposes an NPRC that is accountable to the Executive through the Minister of National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation.
• The Constitution protects the Security of tenure of Commissioners while the Bill seeks to give the President Powers to terminate the services of the Commissioners at will.
• The Constitution empowers the Commission the power to recruit its own staff, while the Bill seeks to empower the Minister to appoint staff from the Civil Service to work as Secretariat staff of the Commission thereby compromising the independence of the Commission.
• The Commission is not independent .The Minister decides the meeting place,dates and time of the Commission (First Schedule section 6 (10).Section 8(7) gives Minister power to stop disclosure of evidence by issuing a certificate barring disclosure .This defeats independence as per section 235 and undermines the truth telling section 252 (c)the Minister has power to bar the truth from being told.

• In terms of Section 252 the mandate of the NPRC is to deal with the past in a manner that facilitates the following:
a) Ensuring post conflict justice ,healing and reconciliation
b) Truth telling about the Past
c) Making of amends and the provision of Justice
d) Peaceful resolution of disputes

The wording of the Bill seems to be opposite in fact its roles seem to be duplicating the Human Rights Commission.
• The Constitution does not provide any term limits for Commissioners .Section 237(3) provides that the conditions for the removal of Judges shall apply to members of independent Commissions .However the Bill Provides in Section 3(1) that the term limit is Five Years or Commissioners and the President can either appoint a further 5 Year term or decline .This takes away the independence of the Commissioners as their further appointment is subject to Presidential approval.
• The NPRC Bill sections 10(1) and 11(1) gives the Minister power to assign current serving Civil Servants to work as Secretariat for the NPRC. International Best practise recommends that such commissions best function with limited government interference and that there should be diversity in terms of ethnicity and professions from different backgrounds and disciplines such as Legal Experts, Researcher ,Social Workers, Investigators ,Scientists and many others .The recruitment of the Civil service will affect the Integrity of the Commission .
• It has been noted that why most Independent Commissions have not been effective because of resource starvation .Notably has been the Anti Corruption Commission. The NPRC Bill‘s main Weakness has been that it gives the Government the power to control the NPRC’S financial Resources .Section 14 (1) (c) gives the responsible Minister to approve donations to the NPRC .The Financial autonomy of the Commission is lost.
• The NPRC makes the Commission to be accountable to a Minister yet the Constitution is Clear that the Commission is accountable to Parliament .Section 235 makes it Clear that Independent Commissions are accountable to Parliament. The Bill makes the Commission almost like a Ministerial Taskforce and the Commissioners dependent on a Minister .The Constitution envisages that the Commission reports to Parliament through the Minister. But the Bill makes it look like that the Commission reports to the Minister who may Cherry pick what he can share with Parliament.
• Section 252 lists the functions of the Constitution .The Bill in Section 6 has a section titled the Functions But does not broaden the functions. As Best Practise its always expected that subsidiary Legislation should always be expanded to give effect to the Constitutional provisions.
• Section 8(13) of the NPRC makes some reference to witnesses and Victims and guarantees of safe and impartial space .The Bill is not exhaustive on the specifics of the protection mechanisms to guarantee safety of would be witness and victims .It does not spell out relevant Psycho Social mechanism available to assist witnesses and
• Certain provisions of Bill create Legal Bureaucracy. Section 8(5) allows the alleged Perpetrator to be represented by a lawyer this creates room for justice for the rich who can get away with offences on legal technicality as the Commission becomes more of a Court.

Endoresed by
1. Abammeli
2. Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA)
1. Bulawayo Vendors and Trader’s Association
2. Basilwizi Trust
3. Christian Legal Society
1. EWF
2. Iibhetshu likazulu
3. National Youth Development Trust
5. Radio Dialogue
6. Skills and Technologies Hub Institute
7. South Western Region Gender Network
8. Street Wise Informal Traders Association (SWITA)
9. Victory Siyanqoba
10. Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)
11. Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)

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