BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC)’s activities have been affected by underfunding, which has crippled its operations, the commission said in its 2021 annual report tabled in Parliament last week.
NPRC bemoaned staffing challenges and called on the government to increase budgetary allocation to support its peace and reconciliation mandate.
“The commission’s budget allocation was insufficient for coverage of its wide programmes. For example, resources were not adequate to handle and investigate all the cases received, hence some cases were either attended to outside designated timeframes or not attended to,” the report read.
“Slow and inadequate release of budgetary allocations makes it difficult for NPRC to stay in line with its scheduled activities during the course of the year. At the point of release of resources, the biggest chunk is channelled towards unavoidable programme expenses such as compensation, statutory payments, rentals, leaving a negligible balance to implement other programmes.
The commission said suppliers used black market rates, thereby, affecting procurement process.
“The economic environment has had a negative impact on the commission due to escalating prices of goods and services, thereby, affecting procurement processes.
“Although the commission has met its total staff establishment, the volume and prevalence of work and the need to have provincial presence in line with the devolution agenda, the human capital strength remains far insufficient to cover the whole country.
“Availability of tools of trade such as laptops and desktops remains inadequate for commission staff, more-so in an environment where work methods are shifting to virtual in line with the new normal,” it said.
The NPRC said it also did not have sufficient accommodation, thereby, compromising confidentiality of investigations, counselling and victim support.
It said the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for the commission to conduct its mandate, most of which required NPRC officials to be on the ground.
“COVID-19 led to migration to online meetings and working from home. This was, however, a challenge as the majority of staff members were not provided with data to allow for a seamless workflow,” the report read.