Rights group promotes peace commission through public information kiosks

MUTARE – The absence of a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) is an opportunity for residents to demand compliance from authorities a human rights group says.

The NPRC is a guaranteed institution for social healing, reconciliation and peace-building which is formed under Chapter 12 of the Constitution, as part of five independent commissions.

Reads part of Chapter 12 Part 6, section 251 “(i) For a period of ten years after the effective date, there is a commission to be known as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission…”

Most Zimbabweans are however lacking knowledge of the NPC as most members of public confuse it with the Organ on National Reconciliation, Healing and Integration (ONHRI) Programs coordinator for Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum Tonderai Kambarami has said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness of the Peace Commission Kambarami said people should demand for this institution.

“It’s sad that it was meant to start in 2013 as soon as the Constitution came into play the commission should have started as well. Unfortunately two years later, it’s nowhere to be found.

“So our whole thing now is to try and find out why it’s taking long.

“As civil society, we feel that people need to know first and foremost that there is a NPRC considering where we are coming from as our history.

“That’s when we came in with this program. What we are doing is that we are holding what we call information kiosks where we give people information about the NPRC,” he said.

“There has been a lack of knowledge about it but once we let the people to know that it is there it should have been there already,” he added, “We also want them to now demand from their councilors, parliamentarians and traditional leaders depending on where you are and whether you have access to the guys, demand and ask where is this commission?”

Churches and Civil Society Forum (CCSF) has however said government was erring in seeking to appoint the commission without an enabling act of parliament to govern its operations.

CCSF co-chair Paul Juru told delegates at a provincial women sensitisation meeting that it was an anomaly for government to hold interviews for office bearers without an act to govern their operations.

“It is an anomaly that there is no law to make it (NPRC) operational but office bearers are being chosen and we think there is a gap.

“While we want the commission to be operational, there is still need to have an Act of Parliament to make sure that it is operational once the commissioners are chosen,” he said.

CCSF management committee member Zachariah Godi says it is now the duty of all citizens from grassroots to approach their parliamentarians who have the mandate to craft such a law.

Godi said while civil society does not want to antagonize government it was the duty of citizens to push their representatives in parliament to make this issue a priority.

“We don’t want to seem to be antagonizing government but we have a proposed bill with our own recommendations.

“However our hands are tied because only about 300 people have the legal mandate to formulate laws on behalf of everyone so we need to push these MP’s to make sure that this issue is made a priority in parliament,” he said.

Kambarami revealed that parliament has since held interviews of shortlisted applicants with 16 names having been submitted to the President for final approval.

The commission composition is 9 members appointed by the President from a list of nominees submitted by parliamentarians.

It is mandated to among other things ensure post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation by developing and implementing programmes that promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe.

It is also supposed to develop early warning mechanisms in areas of potential conflicts and disputes as well as to conciliate and mediate disputes among communities, groups and individuals.

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