By Nkanyiso Ncube
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Bill finally returned to Parliament this week after it was rejected on its initial reading early last year following complaints by the public that the bill gave National Peace and Reconciliation minister too much room to interfere in the commission’s activities.
Legislators across the political divide said the contents of the NPRC bill are vague on how it would address the Gukurahundi massacre.
Speaking in parliament during the presentation of the bill, MDC legislator, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said, “The public hearings showed me an extremely divided nation. Basically, people said don’t give us something that is not telling the truth. The unfortunate thing is when people hear about peace and reconciliation the first thing they think about is Gukurahundi.”
Zanu Pf, Mazowe South legislator Advocate Fortune Chasi concurred with Misihairabwi-Mushonga stating that “The bill is not good from whichever angle you look at it with. From a technical angle, it’s a disaster. Although I have respect for the Attorney General’s office, they have failed us on this bill”.
Misiharabwi also said section 18 of the constitution attempts to address historical inequalities within different regions but these are being ignored by the bill.
The bill was first brought to Parliament by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, its return was short lived following Mphoko’s absence on the second reading which irked the parliamentarians present prompting them to protest the reading.
Member of Parliament for Norton Constituency, Temba Mliswa took to twitter saying, “VP Mphoko must respect Parliament, you can’t ask us to debate ur (your) bill in ur (your) absence, he must learn from VP Mnangagwa who always attends Parliament”
The Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, the Thematic Committee on Human Rights and the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security held public hearings on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill which provided members of the public the opportunity to share their view on the bill.
Critics argue that section 14 of the initial proposed Bill was alarming. The section stated, the commission can accept funding from outside actors and institutions only “with the approval of the minister” and funds can only be invested “with the approval of the minister and the minister responsible for Finance”.
Another contributing factor to the initial rejection of the bill was that the minister responsible had to power to stop the commission from sharing their findings and the bill was not clear on the conflicts it would address.
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