BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
TEMPERS flared yesterday during the Independent Complaints Commission Bill public consultations in Bulawayo after residents accused the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chairperson retired Brigadier-General Levy Mayihlome of intimidating participants.
The commotion resulted in the premature ending of the consultations.
Mayihlome lamented failure by participants to co-operate, adding that he had no choice except to end the meeting.
“It does not help us to be making noise, we just want to have a meeting and go to other places to talk to those who want to listen to us,” he said much to the displeasure of the participants.
One of the participants shouted that soldiers, in reference to Mayihlome, should be barred from conducting the consultations.
“Soldiers and brigadiers should be barred from these committees. The way they conduct and run these meetings is military-like and is meant to intimidate us,” said the unidentified participant.
“How do we even feel safe to report to these committees? They should not be allowed in these seating’s,” he said.
Earlier on, when asked why parliamentarians had no sign language interpreters, Mayihlome said they did not have such people and he was not the owner of Parliament, prompting a barrage of attacks from the floor.
Another participant, who only identified herself as Busi, said they were not comfortable seeing soldiers roaming the streets in the city as if there is a war.
“Soldiers should not be seen in public places. We grew up not seeing them and it should be like that,” she said.
“We no longer feel safe in our country, we are now foreigners. Parliament should also not be a place to retire for soldiers.
“We are tired of seeing 80-year-olds, retired people falling sleep in Parliament,” she said.
Social Justice Ambassador Yollanda Millin said President Emmerson Mnangagwa should not be given power to interfere with commissions.
“The Act shall be administered by the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa ) unless he assigns a minister, he shall appoint a chairperson.
“The President shall appoint two people in a given list, meaning the President is being given so much power,” said Millin.
“If it is an independent commission, let it be independent. Let it be something for the people, by the people. If you look at the clemency order of 2 000, clemency order of 2008, these allowed the President to pardon as per the Constitution, but he pardoned perpetrators of gross human rights violations.”
She said these violators were mostly members of the security services.
“We are talking of murder, torture, and gross inhuman violation of rights which were a direct violation of the Constitution.
“Let the independent commission be independent. Let us not treat it at par with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc). Zacc can be appointed by the President because it has nothing to do with independence,” said Millin.
Another participant Tatenda Gumbura said the commission should ensure that there is gender equality in every way possible.
Elliot Kupfuma said the Bill should be presented in the 16 official languages. Residents said the commission should be given powers to arrest perpetrators and that the Bill should be able to deal with crimes dating back to the Chimurenga and Gukurahundi eras.