THE Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has thrown its weight behind Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s proposed National Peace and Reconciliation Bill (NPRC) Bill that was recently rejected by Zanu PF legislators, who feared that the law would expose the ruling party’s past atrocities.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Zanu PF legislators last week shot down the Bill when it was brought for the second reading in Parliament, and Mphoko was not amused. He described the lawmakers as “confused and noisemakers.”
Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka, argued that the Bill should leave out contentious issues such as Gukurahundi and the 2008 political violence, which left more than 200 opposition supporters maimed or dead.
MIHR secretary-general, Benedict Sibasa, however, described the Bill as progressive since it supports the process of national healing.
“The MPs that have rejected the NPRC Bill as a retrogressive Bill that will open old wounds are offside in their conduct, conviction and position,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20) in Chapter 12 section 251 clearly states that there should be a commission to be known as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, and the Bill, therefore, seeks to operationalise that commission. So to rubbish a Bill that brings into effect what is contained in the Constitution is being legislatively and constitutionally offside.”
He said MPs, who shot down the Bill, were beneficiaries of Gukurahundi massacres, which left more than 20 000 people dead, as the Zanu PF government cracked down on perceived PF-Zapu dissidents.
“Section 252 of the Constitution says some of the functions of the NPR Commission should include ‘to ensure post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation’; to ‘develop and implement programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe and the peaceful resolution of disputes’; and ‘to bring about national reconciliation by encouraging people to tell the truth about the past and facilitating the making of amends and the provision of justice.’
“For a few MPs with limited knowledge of the Constitution, who are beneficiaries of Gukurahundi themselves, to then argue that the NPRC will ‘open old wounds’ is misguided and being misinformed to say the least. In any case, Gukurahundi wounds are not old wounds but they are still fresh and bleeding to those that bear them,” Sibasa said.