BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
A CHIREDZI-BASED activist has petitioned Parliament over delays to implement provisions of section 210 of the Constitution which speaks to the setting up of an independent complaints mechanism dealing with citizens’ grievances against the security sector.
Marko Shoko of Tshovani, in Chiredzi said it is now six years after the new Constitution was adopted, but the independent body is yet to be set up.
Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda acknowledged receiving the petition on Wednesday last week.
The petition is expected to be handed over to Defence, Home Affairs and Security Service committee chaired by Umzingwane legislator Retired Brigadier-General Levi Mayihlome (Zanu PF).
Shoko said he was driven into lodging the petition because citizens who have been physically and emotionally abused by security forces, do not seek redress because they feel perpetrators would be protected and not brought to book.
“I feel it is high time we try and force them to implement what is in the Constitution,” he said.
Human rights lawyer, Lucy Chivasa, who was assaulted by the police at a roadblock in 2017 said it appears as if there is no political will to establish the Act that provides for the independent mechanism to receive and investigate complaints from the public about misconduct by the uniformed forces.
“I was beaten at a roadblock and reported the matter at Masvingo Central Police Station and the matter was referred to Mvuma. The officer who was investigating the matter was not forthcoming,” Chivasa said.
She added: “I never got a trial date and I believe if this Act was in place my case would have been dealt with differently. Just because the prosecutor was a police officer he declined to prosecute and referred the docket back to Charandura Police Station for further investigation.
“I then left for my fellowship in America, but nothing was done up to now. Imagine if they can do that to a whole lawyer, what about a granny in Bikita or from any other rural setting.”
The petition reads: “Acknowledging that the Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates Parliament of Zimbabwe to make laws, carries out executive oversight and discharges a representative role, as well as protects the Constitution and democratic governance in Zimbabwe;
“Recognising that all institutions of the State are accountable to Parliament; mindful of Zimbabwe’s commitment to reform under the second Republic;
“Aware that section 210 of the Constitution peremptorily provides that an Act of Parliament must provide an effective and independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of the security services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct;
“Concerned that over six years since the adoption of the Constitution in 2013, no tangible action has been taken towards realising the constitutional imperative of an independent complaints mechanism;
“Now, therefore, your petitioners beseech the Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its constitutional role and address the following issues of public concern: (i) Ensure the promulgation of an Act of Parliament envisaged by section 210 of the Constitution; (ii) Provide mechanisms for the public complaints mechanisms; (iii) Ensure the protection of the public through its oversight functions vis-à-vis the mechanism aforesaid; and (iv) Subject the relevant institutions to such oversight as may be provided in the relevant Act of Parliament.
“The petitioners beseech the Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its constitutional mandate to give effect to section 210 of the Constitution.”