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Zimbabweans Want Perpetrators of Political Violence to Apologize

FILE: MDC supporters at a rally in Bulawayo … Human rights monitors warned of an upsurge in political violence in Zimbabwe ahead of a proposed election in 2011.

Some Zimbabweans say the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission or NPRC appears to be toothless as local people are not yet ready for healing and reconciliation.

They say the state-leaning commission looks ineffective in promoting healing, peace and reconciliation in the nation.

Some Harare residents who attended a meeting yesterday evening convened by HealZimbabwe, a non-governmental focusing on victims of political violence, said the Commission also appears to be pro-government as commissioners are appointed by the state.

One of the participants, Chitungwiza resident Merjury Marunda, said the commission can’t promote national healing in Zimbabwe if perpetrators of violence have not apologized to their victims.

A victim of political violence, Bamine Musekiwa, said there won’t be any national healing as long as Zanu PF is still in power.

Kudakwashe Matambo, communications programmes assistant with the Jesuits Province of Zimbabwe-Mozambique, urged government to listen to the needs of the people in order to promote national healing and reconciliation.

Some participants echoed the same sentiments though noting that perpetrators of violence need to be identified and asked to apologize to victims if there has to be peace, healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe.

According to Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa, impunity given to perpetrators of violence is what has resulted in the continuous violation of some citizens by others.

However, constitutional law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku blamed the constitution for failure to effectively provide for a truth and reconciliation commission.

He said if the constitution does not work, even the law to operationalize the commission will not work. He said the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill also has some sections that are ultra-vires the constitution.

Section 251 of the Constitution provides for the creation of the NPRC, whose chairperson and eight other members should be appointed by the president after consultations with the Judicial Services Commission and Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. The commissioners have already been appointed and former Speaker of Parliament, Cyril Ndebele, leads the commission.

The Bill to operationalise the commission has passed through parliament's first reading.