‘Peace commission urged to seek independent funding’

FORMER commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission Yasmin Sooka has urged Zimbabwe to come up with independent funding for its National Peace and Reconciliation Commission in order to guarantee its independence.

Source: ‘Peace commission urged to seek independent funding’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 23, 2016

by Everson Mushava

She was speaking in Harare at a conversation on reconciliation in Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Sooka said Africa was awash with examples of commissions that had been sabotaged by government at the 11th hour and Zimbabwe should guard against that by ensuring there was an independent fund for the commission.

“The commission should have the capacity to raise its own money. That should be critical and should be in your law because if you don’t do that, let me assure you, you will be hamstrung,” Sooka said.

“Money is tied by government and across the world, when commissions are close to the truth, the government will hamper your work by withholding the budget. What we see in Africa is that there have been a lot of commissions that produce good reports, but the reports are never implemented. Government will withdraw funding at the last minute.”

She added: “Most important is to seek the independence of the commission. You don’t need permission from politicians to carry out your work. The only way to guarantee independence is to protect the independence of the commission and its structures.”

Zimbabwe, a country with several past human rights violations dating back to pre-independence times, recently appointed commissioners to the NPRC, but the commissioners cannot get to work because the country was still working on the laws governing their operations.

The NPRC Bill was withdrawn from Parliament by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko after the Parliamentary legal committee produced an adverse report. Among the objections raised, MPs said the Bill gave too much power to the Justice minister compromising the independence of the commission.

Sooka also said the choice of commissioners should be public and that people should participate in the process that should be victim-centred.

She said a law should be at the fore before suitable commissioners are identified.

A successful healing process, Sooka said, should involve truth telling, right to justice, reparations and protection against non-occurrence of violations.

“In your society, you will never rest until the main perpetrators are hold accountable,” Sooka said.