MEMBERS of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) are reportedly operating from their homes, as the government has not yet secured office space for them, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice has disclosed. BY VENERANDA LANGA
In its report on the 2018 Justice ministry budget, the Fortune Chasi-led Justice Portfolio Committee urged the government to adequately finance the NPRC to enable its members to operate professionally.
Although the commission was allocated about $1,4 million in this year’s budget by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, up from the $1,1 million received last year, the committee said the allocation was inadequate to cover NPRC’s needs.
“For the past years, the commissioners in this commission (NPRC) have been working from their houses and this is a critical matter, as the public cannot be going to the houses of commissioners to make their reports or complaints,” Chasi said, while presenting the report recently in the National Assembly.
“Government must make funds available to ensure that this independent commission is able to function from proper accommodation, which is accessible to the public.”
The committee said there is need for Chinamasa to allocate more money to support the NPRC, as it has a backlog, which needs to be dealt with in terms of resolving past conflicts.
“It is very important going into the future that all forms of conflict that occurred in this country are resolved and also that going forward, we avoid conflict and this is the fundamental work of the commission,” the committee said.
The NPRC has a serious backlog of cases of work, as it has lost five years of its 10-year lifespan. It was supposed to be operational from 2013, when the Constitution was promulgated, but that did not happen due to lack of an enabling Act to operationalise it.
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Chasi said another quagmire facing the NPRC is that conditions of service, which were spelt out in contracts for the commissioners have not been met.
“We need committed people in this commission, people, who are happy to be working in the environment. Whatever the commissioners were promised must be accorded. I cannot over-emphasise the need for Treasury to particularly give specific attention to this commission and ensure that the funds are released immediately to allow them to begin to do their work,” Chasi said.