Rights activists decry absence of Reconciliation Act

HUMAN rights grouping, ZimRights, yesterday decried the absence of mechanisms for national healing, reconciliation, healing and restitution for victims of human rights abuses in the absence of a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Act.

by VENERANDA LANGA

The NPRC Bill to operationalise the NPRC was gazetted in December last year after Parliament had adjourned for the Christmas holidays and is yet to be crafted.

members-of-parliament

ZimRights said lack of such a body had resulted in some victims in need of healing, dying before operationalisation of the NPRC.

“An example is of a man, Patrick Mukumbe, in Nemadziwa, rural Buhera, who, in 2008, tried to recover his 10 goats from youth political militants that had confiscated them for meat at a base camp, but was gang-assaulted and injured on his head, leg and back,” Zimrights said.

“Luckily, he survived the ordeal, but Mukombe became repeatedly bedridden for a period stretching about eight years, the remainder of his life. Mukombe died after a lengthy illness believed to have been triggered by the grave assault, and was buried on Sunday January 17, 2016, in Ward 29 of Buhera South, Manicaland province.”

They said the perpetrators of the violence were never arrested and Mukombe, a branch secretary for the main opposition MDC-T in Nemadziwa, died without any compensation, or healing for the suffering he endured under the hands of the suspected Zanu PF youths.

“As revealed at the commemorations of the United Nations Day in Support of Victims of Torture in June last year at the Anglican Cathedral Hall in Harare, there are thousands of victims who are still living with the unsavoury effects of the violent political episodes in Zimbabwe,” the rights group said.

“The new Constitution, in section 251, provides for a NPRC to ensure justice, reconciliation, closure and peace, but stakeholders, through the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG), have condemned as unconstitutional, the form in which the current draft Bill was drafted.”

Some of the sections in the draft NPRC Bill, which the NTJWG said are ultra vires (against) the Constitution, include that the Bill is supposed to establish an NPRC that is accountable to Parliament, yet the draft Bill seeks to create an NPRC that is accountable to the Executive (the Minister of National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation).

While the commission is supposed to last for 10 years, the draft Bill, however, says commissioners’ terms can be terminated by the President at the end of five years at will.

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