Source: Govt to revise Peace Bill | The Herald June 17, 2017
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Government will further amend the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill to ensure that the independent commission does not handle cases under judicial consideration, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has said.
VP Mphoko, who also oversees the Ministry of National Healing, Integration and Reconciliation, said he would make necessary amendments when the Bill, currently on its second reading stage in the National Assembly, reaches committee stage.
He said this on Tuesday while responding to concerns raised by legislators particularly the portfolio committee on Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Zvimba West legislator Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi (Zanu-PF).
The Bill was withdrawn from Parliament last year as Government wanted to attend to several reservations made by stakeholders including the Parliamentary Legal Committee and was eventually reintroduced before Parliament.
In its report, the committee had indicated that Clause Eight (3) of the Bill only acknowledged civil proceedings and was silent on criminal cases.
“The issue of citing matters before the civil court only is noted. At the Committee Stage Clause 8 (3) will be amended to ensure that the Commission will not deal with matters which are before both the civil and criminal courts,” said VP Mphoko.
VP Mphoko said the Commission was empowered to deal with any type of dispute or conflict brought before it.
“The Constitution did not define the scope of the dispute or conflict to be adjudicated by the Commission. Defining the scope of this dispute may have the effect of limiting the dispute. Limiting the scope of the dispute or conflict may deny the citizens of their fundamental constitutional right to have the processes of healing and reconciliation,” said VP Mphoko.
Harare West MP Ms Jessie Majome had indicated that the Commission should have power to initiate its own investigations.
But VP Mphoko shot down the proposals saying it would create problems.
“Giving the Commission powers to initiate its own investigations which have not been reported to it may lead the NPRC on a fishing expedition which might result in wastage of resources and not yield the intended results. The Commission should therefore be guided in its operations by what is in the Constitution,” said VP Mphoko.
“It should also be noted that there are 10 functions that the NPRC has to fulfil. The Commission is therefore not being operationalised to conduct investigations only, but it even needs to ‘develop and implement programmes to promote national healing, unity and cohesion in Zimbabwe and the peaceful resolution of disputes’ amongst other functions.”