By Dumisani Nyoni
Bulawayo, April 06, 2016 – PARLIAMENT’S peace and security committee has skipped Harare and Bulawayo in next week’s outreach process to gauge citizens’ views on what to include in the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill.
The public hearings by the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice and thematic committee on peace and security will be conducted from 11 to 16 April in selected areas.
The MPs’ itinerary will involve hearings in Kwekwe, Gweru, Victoria Falls, Hwange, Plumtree, Lupane, Masvingo, Gutu, Bikita, Mutare, Marondera, Murehwa, Mutoko, Mvurwi and Bindura.
This is part of government’s efforts to scale up public participation in the formulation of laws in the country.
National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda told RadioVOP he was not aware parliament had skipped the country’s biggest cities.
“I am not aware of that omission but I think since the programme is still going on, they (MPs) are going to include them,” Mudenda said.
However, the snub has been felt strongly in Bulawayo where residents and civic groups have lamented being denied what they feel was a great opportunity to contribute to their views to the envisaged law.
“We don’t know why they did this, whether it was deliberate or not. We are equally perplexed,” said Zimbabwe Christian Alliance national chairperson, Rev Ray Motsi.
Hloniphani Ndlovu, a Bulawayo resident believed it was a deliberate ploy by Zanu-PF to cow them.
“We don’t know what criteria were used to decide on these places. I believe it’s a calculated decision by Zanu PF to silence Bulawayo people as they are considered the strongholds of opposition parties,” he said.
Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe director Samukele Hadebe said they were also amazed about the omission of the tow major cities.
“We are really surprised why Bulawayo and Harare were not included on the schedule,” said Hadebe.
“We would have loved them to visit those places. However, it’s difficult to comment on why the two places were not included on the schedule because it’s their choice.”
Affirmative Action Group (AAG) vice-president Sam Ncube, however, said although this was a lost opportunity for residents, it would still not have made a big difference as government would still proceed to ignore people’s views.
“Government should respect people’s views,” he said.
“You might find out that whatever people would have said would be ruled on party lines. The political party with majority in Parliament might spike other issues it views as unfit.
“This is very wrong and we say people’s views must be respected. If not, then the whole process becomes for academic purposes,” he said.
Ncube said opposition MPs were crying foul that they usually do such exercises and submit reports to the Executive which then decides what to include or not to include.
“Why going around to the people yet you have got answers already,” he said.