As Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) we have been following with keen interest developments around the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill and welcome the withdrawal of the Bill from Parliament. We hope the withdrawal will result in a better Bill that is not only in line with Constitution but also addresses all the issues raised on it to date.
We acknowledge the concerns raised by the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) in their adverse report of the NPRC Bill; and associate ourselves with the issues raised by citizens who participated in the public hearings. The PLC noted that the Bill violates the Constitution in limiting the power of the Commission and reduces it to simply producing a report for the Minister and gives the Minister power to interfere with the Commission’s reception of evidence. The PLC also criticised the Bill for giving the Minister power to second persons from the civil service to the Commission’s secretariat and for interfering with the Commission’s financial autonomy. The majority of the citizens who submitted their views to Parliament during the hearings raised concern with the powers given to the Minister in the Bill which they felt compromised the independence and autonomy of the NPRC.
As such we commend government for withdrawing the Bill and look forward to a fresh process with an improved Bill, which takes into consideration observations made by Parliament and citizens. Government is also encouraged to take note of international best practice in particular noting the importance of the protection of victims of episodes of conflict when they give evidence.
We call upon government to ensure that further process regarding this be consultative and all inclusive. It is imperative that public hearings of this Bill are conducted as far and wide as possible to ensure inclusivity of even those in remote and outlying areas as opposed to the last process that saw only a few areas of the country scheduled to have the public hearings. It is also of critical importance for the nation to be made aware of the objectives of the NPRC so that the public hearings can be held with minimum disturbances.
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