Reconciliation bill illegal, lawyers

A TRANSITIONAL justice campaign group has said the recently gazetted National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) bill is unconstitutional and must be revised.

Government gazetted the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill last December to give effect to Sections 251, 252, and 253 of the Constitution.

President Robert Mugabe has since appointed commissioners to run the peace and reconciliation commission.

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However, the National Transitional Justice Working Group Zimbabwe (NTJWG) said the hampers truth-telling, justice, healing and reconciliation while also encouraging the destruction of evidence.

Addressing journalist in Harare last Friday, NTJWG chairperson Alec Muchadehama said the bill must have been built around a “clear and firm legislative framework giving effect to the Constitutional provisions”.

It must also be guided by international standards as provided by the United Nations.

“Several sections of the NPRC Bill are ultra vires of the Constitution,” said the Harare attorney.

“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.

“(Again) while the Constitution establishes an NPRC that is accountable to Parliament, the Bill creates an NPRC that is accountable to the executive, being a Minister of National, Healing, Peace and Reconciliation.”

Muchadehama added while the Constitution also provides for a Commission with the power to hire its own secretariat; the Bill gives the Minister the authority to appoint civil servants to work as the secretariat of the NPRC.

“These (provisions) among, many others, contradict the Constitution,” he said.

“This fashions an NPRC which is technically lame and dependent on the whimsical tastes of politicians in view of the sensitive work it is mandated to address.”

The NTJWG chair however said he understood that the bill was work in progress and hoped that the policy makers would “heed this constructive input to revamp the current Bill in consultation with the public”.

“The process of building peace and facilitating reconciliation is not the task of a single organisation but the task of the whole nation,” he said.

“NTJWG is always ready to cooperate with the responsible ministry and the parliament in revamping the NPRC bill to ensure that is in line with the Constitution and meets the expectations of the people of Zimbabwe.”

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