Participants at a public hearing for the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill welcomed moves to enact the law, which is expected to improve the effectiveness of the envisaged body that would be established once the Bill is passed into law.
The Bill was gazetted in November last year and was tabled by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi last month.
Public hearings on the Bill started yesterday.
They were jointly convened by the Portfolio Committees on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services and the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security, and are being held countrywide throughout the week.
The Memorandum of the Bill states that the envisaged Commission seeks to remedy harm caused by misconduct on the part of any member of the security and that the Commission should be independent from each of the security services.
At public hearings in Harare, Ms Martha Dhamu welcomed the proposed law saying it would ensure members of the security services were accountable.
“The Bill is a good starting point to ensure the security sector operates within confines of the law, but there should be clearly defined mechanisms to ensure accessibility to the majority of the population who reside in rural areas and be gender sensitive in its operations,” she said.
Mr Youngerson Matete said the clause that provides for the Commission to invite observers from the security services when it is carrying out its investigations should be removed as it would threaten its independence and could intimidate complainants.
Ms Nyasha Machirori said the recommendations of the Commission as provided in Section 13 of the Bill should be registered with the courts so that they become legally enforceable.
Mr Pride Mungwari from Heal Zimbabwe proposed that the Bill should also provide protection mechanisms for complainants and witnesses against retribution.
The acts of misconduct in the Bill relate to any criminal or other act by a security services member contrary to the proper exercise of their functions as specified in the Constitution and includes, but is not limited to, any death in the custody of any member of a security service, any death as a result of actions of any member of a security service, unjustified discharge of an official firearm by any member of a security service, rape of any person while that person is in the custody of a security service and the torture or assault of any person by a member of a security service in the execution of the member’s duties, among others.
The Commission will comprise a chairperson appointed by the President, after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and four other members appointed by the President from a list of not fewer than seven nominees submitted by Parliament.