Residents reject NPRC Bill

MASVINGO - Residents in Masvingo have dismissed the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill saying it gives too much power to the Justice minister and erodes the commission’s independence.

Speaking at a public hearing of the Bill on Tuesday Masvingo residents said sections that give power to the Justice ministry should be struck off.

“All sections giving power to the minister should be scrapped off because appointments made by the president already show that the NPRC will be a toothless bulldog,” said Evidence Chuma, a participant.

In the bill, the president will appoint the chairperson of the commission something that residents say makes “NPRC a toothless bulldog”.

Another participant said the bill should speak directly to victims of human rights violations.

“This Bill should not be yours as parliamentarians, but should address our concerns as victims of political violence. We are the ones who suffered and we are still to get reparations or counselling.”

The Bill among other things gives a minimum of 14 days to investigate human rights violations something that residents say is wrong.

“We want the 10-year limit in the Constitution to be scrapped off. The commission should have no prescribed term limit to investigate human rights violations. Politicians should also have the political will to ensure the commission works,” Stella Mambudzi said.

The residents also booed the parliamentarians and accused some of them of being part of the perpetrators of human rights violations.

“You politicians are not sincere. You are the instigators of violence and now you come talking about peace. You have double standards,” one participant shouted.

The residents complained that the legislators should not just do a window dressing process but instead focus on ensuring that the act put in place a commission that will guarantee the non-recurrence of violence.

Another sticking point in Masvingo was the concentration of the public hearings in urban centres.

Participants told the legislators to visit rural areas where many victims of human rights violations reside instead of concentrating in urban areas.

However, Senator Damien Mumvuri (Zanu PF) claimed that they were limited by the lack of resources.

On Monday, the legislators were in Gutu where participants also expressed doubt on whether their views would be incorporated.

“We wrote the Constitution which gave birth to this commission, but this Bill you brought to us contravenes that Constitution. If you failed to comply with the Constitution in drafting the Bill what guarantee is there that our submissions will be incorporated in the act,” Portia Zeka complained.

The NPRC Bill gazetted last December seeks to operationalise the commission.

The rejection of the Bill by the Gutu and Masvingo communities comes also after the National Transitional Justice Working Group, a group of non-state actors that is monitoring the transitional justice process also slammed the bill as unconstitutional.

Last week, the Jonathan Samkange-led Parliament Legal Committee also produced an adverse report of the bill.

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chastuchus - 15 April 2016

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