Disgruntled Bulawayo residents have expressed concerns over the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) which they say will not ensure post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation.
Speaking at a public discussion on the NPRC Bill organized by Habakkuk Trust in collaboration with Heal Zimbabwe Trust recently, residents said victims of past injustices including victims of past injustices would not be able to find closure and move on if perpetrators of the crimes were not brought to book.
Zimbabwe has a long history of human rights abuses which resulted in loss of lives, disappearances, torture, rape only to mention a few, hence the establishment of section 251 of the Constitution. NPRC bill was gazetted in December 2015 and is set to operationalize the country’s peace commission which has already been appointed whose mandate is to ensure post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation.
“How are we going to have peace when the perpetrators are the ones who determine how the process of national healing will unfold?” asked one resident. “I am here as a victim and the perpetrators are still there with guns.”
Some were worried about how the Commission would deal with the perpetrators who were given amnesty.
“What then happens to the amnesty that were given to the perpetrators of violence? For reconciliation to occur, these people must admit that they did wrong, show that they have changed and are willing to move forward.”
Residents also expressed concerns over lack of Constitutionalism that prevails in the country with some asking how the reconciliation process will be implemented when many laws have not been aligned with the Constitution.
“How many Commissions do we have in this country and what have they done so far? We should not be discussing the bills and laws in the Constitution if they are not being followed. Instead, we should be discussing Constitutionalism.”
Public Policy Institute of Zimbabwe Director Dr Samukele Hadebe encouraged residents to unite and move forward towards nation building.
“It was never easy for other countries and it will not be easy for us as well, but we have to unite and work together towards nation building.”
The meeting, attended by over 80 members of the public, was meant to raise awareness on the NPRC Bill so that people can effectively input on the bill as it goes through various parliamentary procedures. The meeting also discovered general lack of knowledge about the commission and the bill itself.