Some Masvingo residents have rejected the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill in public hearings saying it gives the state too much power to monitor and control commissioners.
Residents of Gutu Growth Point and Masvingo town Monday and Tuesday rejected almost three quarters of the Bill saying it violates some provisions of Zimbabwe’s constitution.
The Bill is designed to operationalize the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. One of the people who rejected the Bill was Lloyd Mufudze of Mushayavanhu of Gutu.
“The Bill infringes the independence of the Commission guaranteed in Section 235 of constitution which indicates that the Commission reports to parliament not the minister. The Bill must not take away the independence of the Commission by giving the minister too much power to interfere in the business of the institution.”
Shylet Gano of Masvingo town echoed the same sentiments, adding that the Bill was silent on issues of reparations and compensation for victims of political violence.
“This Bill is silent on compensation and reparations so that people like us who lost their beloved ones, cattle and homes during political violence get to be paid. Government should compensate us but all this in not there in the Bill so how are we going to reconcile with those who took away our things.”
Arnold Bhasera of Masvingo’s Mucheke suburb added that the Bill should be redone before it is passed in parliament as it gives the Minister Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the president powers that are not in the constitution.
“This Bill’s Clause 3 states that members of the Commission serve a maximum of two terms of up to five years as determined by the president. This is contrary to the constitution provisions of 320(1) which states that all members shall be appointed for five year renewable terms and the president cannot appoint shorter terms.”
Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee member Innocent Gonese of the MDC said the committee will present its finding to parliament without doctoring people’s views.
“What one must appreciate is that we want to get sentiments from the people so that we take it to parliament and then to the minister and we will take what the public is saying especially that the Bill is not inconsistent with the constitution and we will have to take that as it is.”
Human Rights NGO Forum’s Tinotenda Kambarami, who attended the hearings, said the committee should respect the views of the people.
“The people have spoken and have said that some of the clauses are unconstitutional. It shows that the people of Masvingo and Gutu are saying this is not the document we can go forward with and it needs to be fixed.”
The public hearings are being done in all the provinces before the Bill is presented to parliament for approval. Parliament’s legal committee has already condemned the Bill saying it contravenes some provisions of the country’s constitution.