The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill (NPRC Bill) gazetted on December 18, 2015, is unconstitutional and reduces the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission to a ministerial department, the National Transitional Justice Working Group of Zimbabwe (NTJWG) has said.
by Staff Reporter
Speaking to journalists yesterday, the NTJWG, which was represented by its chairperson Alec Muchadehama, independent expert Otto Saki and thematic leader on Promotion of Truth Father Fradereck Chiromba, said the NPRC Bill violated several provisions of the Constitution.
The NTJWG is a platform established by 46 organisations to provide an interface between stakeholders and official transitional justice processes in Zimbabwe.
At the briefing, NTJWG released a preliminary report on the NPRC Bill, which it said highlighted some of the key issues observed from the Bill.
Muchadehama said several sections of the NPRC Bill were ultra vires (beyond legal power or authority of) the Constitution.
“While the Constitution establishes an NPRC that is accountable to the Parliament, the Bill creates an NPRC that is accountable to the Executive — being the Minister of National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation,” he said.
“While the Constitution establishes a commission for 10 years, the Bill creates a commission where the commissioners’ term of office can be terminated by the President at the end of a five-year term. While the Constitution creates commissioners with the security of tenure like that of judges, the Bill creates commissioners whose tenure can be terminated by the President after five years.”
He added: “While the Constitution creates a Commission that has the power to hire its own secretariat, the Bill gives the minister power to appoint civil servants to work as the secretariat of the NPRC.”
He said the Bill failed to establish a distinct dealing with the past mandate as envisaged by the Constitution.
“It gives the Minister of Healing too much power, including the power to decide what he/she wants to do with the recommendations of the commission after its work. This is a dangerous provision that threatens the entire work of the commission,” Muchadehama said.
According to the Bill, the minister must approve all donations to the commission.
NTJWG said financial autonomy was key to the independence of the commission, claiming resource starvation could be used to disempower the commission.