The National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) welcomes the gazetting of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Act (NPRC Act) on 5 January 2018. The NPRC is one of the five independent Commissions established by the Constitution in 2013, but its operations had been paralysed by the absence of an enabling law.
By Alec Muchadehama
Since 2014, the NTJWG has worked with stakeholders who are engaged in community dialogue and policy advocacy to address past gross human rights violations. This law is one of the fruits of such work.
As the law becomes operational, NTJWG commends the Government of Zimbabwe for heeding the call by the people of Zimbabwe to take seriously this dialogue on reconciliation. NTJWG is encouraged by the commitment that the NPRC Commissioners have shown and pledges to keep working with the Commission to ensure that its mandate is successfully dispensed. NTJWG is encouraged by the drive shown by stakeholders in pushing for this Bill and insisting that the minimum standards for an effective Commission be upheld.
With the law in place, it has become urgent that a Chairperson be appointed for the NPRC to ensure that the Commission immediately gets down to business. We call on the relevant authorities to get this issue top of their priority list as it creates a constitutional crisis.
NTJWG is aware that the NPRC Act has got monumental weaknesses in it. Despite efforts to cure these efforts through various proposals, the final Act still falls short of the ideal law for such an important task. The Act’s indifference towards the NPRC’s healing and justice mandate alienates and discourages the victims of past atrocities. Its failure to put in place measures for victim protection is worrying. These among many other weaknesses highlighted in our past analyses and countless proposals to Parliament mean that there is still a lot of work to be done.
However, these weaknesses do not diminish the significance of the progress that has been made, but rather make us alert that healing a nation will not be achieved by a small group of Commissioners, but rather must be a national process that must include all the people of Zimbabwe who desire to see unshakeable true peace and genuine reconciliation return to our land. NTJWG remains a willing partner on that great task of saying Never Again! to the atrocities that befell our land in the past.