Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Advocate Martin Dinha has said the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) has to preserve peace and prevent conflict ahead of this year’s harmonised elections.
Speaking at a meeting convened by the NPRC in the province recently as part of its national consultative meetings, Adv Dinha said the commission needed to work together with stakeholders to ensure free and fair elections.
“When you see yourself attacking someone for a vote, you are not mentally stable,” he said. “It is the wish of the President (Mnangagwa) to have free and fair elections. You can make it possible in your respective areas.
“We take peace for granted when we have it. We can only see the bad effects after it has happened. We cannot do anything when we don’t have a peaceful environment. A peaceful home is a peaceful environment.
“Let’s draw lessons from communities affected by conflicts. Here in Zimbabwe, the liberation struggle was a conflict that brought suffering.”
Adv Dinha urged people to respect each other’s views.
“Having different views does not mean that we are enemies, he said. The President said we are all equal as Zimbabweans. To those in positions of power, I urge you not to abuse your power because responsibility makes us reduce conflict.”
Adv Dinha recognised the role played by chiefs in resolving conflict in their jurisdictions.
“They preserve the traditional fabric of communities, yet you complain when they are recognised, he said. I encourage the commission to partner with BUSE (Bindura University of Science Education) because it is the only university in Zimbabwe that studies peace and governance.”
Reverend Charles Masunungure from the NPRC told the gathering that although the commission was created in 2015, President Mnangagwa made it operational by signing the NPRC Act on January 5, 2018.
“We are independent and we are like a referee,” he said. “Before being empowered to move around talking to people, we were not just seated, but we were busy drawing lessons from Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya, who came and made presentations.
“We were also creating policies and regulations for the commission, which will pass through Parliament in a few days to come.
“The President said he wants dialogue with the opposition parties before elections and as a commission, it is our mandate to facilitate and create that opportunity. We wish that peace education will be part of the curriculum. Bullying creates notorious people. It is our wish that peace education must start at an early age and becomes common.”
Rev Masunungure said the NPRC Act imposed a 10-year prison term for a person who threatened and discouraged a witness subpoenaed by the commission.
The workshop was attended by NPRC commissioners Choice Ndoro and Dr Godfrey Chekenyere, chiefs, Government officials, political activists and BUSE lecturers and students.