Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill was poorly received by members of the public as it failed to address some of the most relevant issues, the Parliamentary Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has said.
Government gazetted the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill in February this year, a year after another one was withdrawn from Parliament following an adverse opinion on the proposed legislation by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
The Justice Committee and thematic Committees of Human Rights and of Peace and Security conducted joint public hearings in all the country’s provinces, and gathered views and opinions on the Bill.
The chairperson of the Committee, who is also the Zvimba West MP Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi, told Parliament on Tuesday that there was a need to clearly define and list the functions of the Commission for people to understand the proposed law’s purpose.
“Generally the Bill did not receive wide acceptance from members of the public. It failed to define salient terms and references, particularly the issues to do with perpetrators and victims.
“More specifically, the Bill did not deal with legal issues pertaining to previous amnesty granted, and the period which the Commission has jurisdiction over. It’s silent on the procedures to be used in ascertaining one’s status as a perpetrator or victim,” said Cde Ziyambi.
He said the healing process cannot be achieved if victims are left on the margins.
“At the centre of any healing process are victims. The Constitution states in section 252 that healing is one of the functions of the NPRC. It further talks about providing rehabilitative treatment and support to victims and survivors. The process should therefore be give priority to the victims,” said Cde Ziyambi.
“In its present format, the Bill does not define a victim, conflict, dispute, amnesty, perpetrator, post-conflict justice, torture and reconciliation among other terms.
“The interpretation section is too weak and evidently shows poor drafting. It’s also the Committee’s view that the issuance of a Ministerial certificate in the public interest is universal practice necessary for the preservation of law and order.”
Cde Ziyambi said the committee also noted with concern that the Bill was silent on gender and there was a need for a specific gender section.
“It recommended that a separate section must be inserted on gender. This section must set up a gender unit which will promote participation of women, girls and other marginalised groups in the work of the Commission It will also help facilitate gender equity into the structure of the Commission,” said Cde Ziyambi.
Matabeleland South proportional representation MP Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who is a member if the committee said it was unfortunate that people were misinterpreting the Bill.
“The unfortunate thing that has happened with this Bill is that the moment people hear about National Peace and Reconciliation, the first thing that comes to their mind is Gukurahundi.
“I want to join my colleagues and chairperson in saying the general view that we got was not that people didn’t want the Bill. They want it but this particular Bill was not making sense both in the way it was drafted and the manner in which the contents and the issues therein were expressed,” she said Misihairambwi.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko who is responsible for national healing is on record challenging the nation to address past human rights violations through dialogue, truth telling and forgiveness for national healing to succeed.
VP Mphoko said this would address the root cause of physical, emotional and traumatic experiences and mend broken relations.