Welshman Ncube bids to scuttle Mudenda appointment

HARARE - A special parliamentary committee is this week expected to endorse or reject Jacob Mudenda as the new chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).

ZHRC is the first statutory body tasked with investigating rights abuses.

Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee — the legislature’s policy making body — is due to meet this week to decide on Mudenda’s appointment by the executive arm of government.

Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller MDC by legislative representation, told a civil society-State interface forum held at the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition offices in Harare last week that he believed the ex-Zanu PF politburo member was not the right candidate for the job of ZHRC chair.

The ZHRC is one of the bodies expected to steer reforms towards free and fair elections.

“The issue of Mudenda has not been brought to the Standing Rules and Orders Committee yet,” Ncube said.

“If the MDC-T stands with us, we will win, but if the MDC-T and Zanu PF stand together they will prevail over us.”

Mudenda, who was picked up to replace Reg Austin who quit citing meddling and lack of resources, was a consensus candidate agreed to by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Ncube’s attempt to scuttle Mudenda’s confirmation is likely to run into a brick-wall, given the agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Asked if he believed Mudenda — a lawyer by profession — was qualified to lead the crucial commission, the MDC leader said: “On the specific qualification he qualifies, but on the general qualification which requires a history of interest in human rights he might not qualify.

“For you to be an effective chair of the Human Rights Commission you must have a clear history, you must not have a partisan history.

“I don’t see how Mudenda having risen to a high position in Zanu PF can satisfy that requirement.”

Ncube said Austin had highlighted to him that the encroachment in the mandate of the ZHRC was one of the reasons he threw in the towel.

“One of the reasons why Austin resigned is the provision in the Electoral Act that there should be anti-violence committees, saying it would compromise the independence of the commission,” Ncube said.

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