Violence Victims Want Tormentors Off Peace Commission

By Mlondolozi Ndlovu

Harare, January 21, 2016 – Political violence victims in Zimbabwe have vowed to disown any peace and reconciliation process fronted by their alleged tormentors.

Zimbabwe has set in motion, a painstaking peace and reconciliation process which has been kick-started with the recent drafting of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill and December appoints of commissioners.

However, at a Harare meeting called by Heal Zimbabwe Trust for victims to add their contributions proposed law, political violence victims from across the country demanded sweeping changes to the law.

These include the need to trim the justice minister’s powers, whose overarching influence on the commission’s affairs is feared would tame the supposedly independent body.

Victims also want former Zanu PF politicians who allegedly instigated past violations not to have any thing to do with the process.

“As victims of political violence, we welcome the initiative by Heal Zimbabwe Trust to have us engage on the NPRC Bill,” said a man from Headlands who preferred anonymity.

“However, we do not want people especially Ministers who abused us like the likes of Didymus Mutasa (former Zanu PF Headlands MP and security minister) to be part of this noble process. The bill must be clear on that.”

Other victims demanded clear time lines on issues the commission was set to deal with and how parameters to be used by government to compensate them for their losses.

Davy Ndlovu, who lost a brother during the so-called Gukurahundi massacres which killed an estimated 20 000 civilians in Matebeleland and Midlands early 1980s, said the commission must also cast back to the country’s darkest post liberation conflict period.

“I lost my brother during the Gukurahundi period and I still do not have his birth certificate because they could not allow me to say Gukurahundi was the cause for his death, hence this period must be included in the process,” said Ndlovu who said he has failed to find peace in his homeland although he once received counselling in South Africa.

Memory Ncube, a Harare youth once victimised for the alleged killing of police Inspector Petros Mutedza in 2011, said peace commissioners should be granted longer terms to see through the painstaking process.

A 2008 presidential run-off election violence victim demanded for more powers to be given to parliament as opposed to the President.

“We do not want the President’s intervention and allow more powers to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, the Judicial Service Commission because the President is biased,” he said, without giving his name.

Other demands involved a government stop in politicising the reconciliation, among other national initiatives.

Heal Zimbabwe Executive Director, Rashid Mahiya felt the meeting would help come up with a law which can be owned by all the parties in Zimbabwe.

“We are still coming up with a position and I think this process is helping us to come up with a position, but we can say that we have identified key issues highlighted by the participants who feel that the independence of the Commission is actually undermined by the powers that are vested in the minister,” Mahiya  later told RadioVop.

Civic groups have also inputted into the proposed law where they have largely condemned the draft legislation as inconsistent with the country’s constitution.

The President of Zimbabwe has finally appointed a 9-member National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) which will be chaired by Bishop Emeritus Dr Ambrose Moyo, a founding member of the Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Forum.

 

Lilian Chigwedere will serve as deputy chairperson of the commission which also comprises Patience Znale Chiradza, Choice Ndoro, Netty Musanhu, Charles Masunungure, Dr Geoffrey Chada, Leslie Ncube and Godfrey Chekenyere.