New National Peace and reconciliation Commission Bill Hailed

Lovemore Lubinda

The veritas, has hailed changes made to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill.

The veritas which provides information on the work of the Parliament of Zimbabwe and the laws of Zimbabwe and makes public domain information widely available, says despite the defects noted in this bill watch in 2015, the Bill is a great improvement on the earlier one and it must be enacted as quickly as possible so that the Commission can begin its work.

Section 251 of the Constitution establishes the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission for a ten-year period starting on the 22nd August 2013.  Section 252 sets out the Commission’s functions, of which the main ones are:

Of ensuring post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation, developing and implementing programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion and the peaceful resolution of disputes, and to encourage people to tell the truth about the past and to facilitate the making of amends and the provision of justice.

It also calls for the developing procedures and institutions to facilitate dialogue between political parties, communities and other groups, and taking appropriate action on complaints it has received from the public.

Commissioners were sworn in on 24th February 2016.  In spite of the Commission’s constitutional mandate and powers enabling it to start its work under section 252 and 342 of the Constitution, it has done little so far and is apparently waiting for an “enabling” Act.

Its Chairperson Cyril Ndebele died last year and a new Chairperson has not been appointed.   For the 2016 financial year the Commission was allocated $200 000 but spent $366 000.  Presumably Parliament will expect a report on work done to justify this amount.   This year 2017 the Commission has been allocated $1 900 000.

Veritas noted that even though the new bill is not ideal, particularly in that it does not envisage the Commission achieving its objectives of healing and reconciliation through less formal means than public hearings and investigations. This is not a fatal defect since the constitution gives the commission all the powers necessary to enable it to fulfill all its objectives including healing and reconciliation.