By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, March 29, 2016 – ORDINARY Zimbabweans have accused the Zanu PF led government of deliberately clouding the country’s national healing process in attempts to protect perpetrators of heinous crimes against citizens.
This they expressed during ongoing public consultations around the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill spearheaded by a local NGO, Heal Zimbabwe Trust.
At one such meeting in Harare’s Highfileds suburb last week, an elderly woman who was identified as Gogo Chihera said she was not aware of existence of such commission.
“We are not aware of that commission; it came as a surprise to some of us that Heal Zimbabwe are here to gather our opinions but look we are in the dark,” she said.
Another unidentified contributor during the public meeting was bold enough to say the current Zanu PF government was benefiting from the general ignorance among citizens.
“The problem is that these politicians from the ruling party know that they were part of the violence meted on the people hence they don’t want us to speak for fear of being exposed,” he said.
The NPRC Bill is set to operationalise the country’s peace commission whose commissioners have since been appointed by President Robert Mugabe.
The envisaged law was tabled in parliament last year and shall only be passed after the legislative arm of the state has exhausted all processes involved in the enactment of the law.
The setting up of a peace commission is among the dictates of the country’s new Constitution.
Over a hundred members of the public including Highfields East MP Eric Murayi attended last week’s event, which is among many such meetings being convened by Heal Zimbabwe Trust countrywide with the same objective.
Basing on the sentiments expressed by those who have attended their meetings, Heal Zimbabwe Trust Programs officer Cleton Manjova admitted there was general lack of information around the process among Zimbabweans.
“Zimbabweans have experienced pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial violence hence there is need for a closure to all the violence that has occurred, but unfortunately little is known about this slated Bill,” he said.
Manjova said while people were listening and attending the meetings, the civil society and government has a lot of work to do in terms of both educating citizens.
“One good thing is the desire by the people to listen to issues around peace building but the general overview is that most of the people are unaware of such a thing, which then shows that civil society and government has a lot of work to do,” he said.
The same sentiments were echoed by Human Rights NGO Forum lawyer Shastry Njeru who said the fact that the commission was already three years into its ten year tenure and up to now there was no information on it was detrimental to efforts to restore lasting peace in a country reeling from past conflicts.
“I am concerned and worried about lack of information probably caused by the political will on parliament processes,” he said.
“I wonder if people really participated in the COPAC process. There is need for robust information dissemination process from government and civil society,” he said.
Under his regime, President Mugabe’s administration has been accused of mass killings, rape, forced disappearances and forced displacements in the name of politics.