‘Peace bill gives minister too much power’

Harare – Victims of political violence in Zimbabwe who attended a meeting in Harare on Tuesday on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill, have expressed reservations over the piece of legislation which they say gives too many powers to the minister.

‘Peace bill gives minister too much power’

The consultative reference meeting was organised by Heal Zimbabwe Trust to give the victims an understanding of the Bill and also input into it before it is presented to parliament.

“We are still coming up with a position and I think this process is helping us to come up with a position, but we can say that we have identified key issues highlighted by the participants who feel that the independence of the Commission is actually undermined by the powers that are vested in the minister,” Heal Zimbabwe Executive Director, Rashid Mahiya told reporters on the side-lines of the meeting.

Mahiya said the peace and reconciliation process required sincerity on the part of government, adding that a number of issues in the Bill lacked clarity.

“There should be clarity that this Commission seeks to deal with past cases of violence and that the State was a major player in human rights abuses that took place; but there is an attempt to be diplomatic and say disputes and what not when we know that the majority of the cases have been political violence and the State was part of it.

“That is why we have a lot of misgivings by the survivors on the role of the Minister and roles of the executive because they were part of the perpetrators,” he added.

Mahiya said that what was needed was a limited role of the executive while also ensuring that there was clarity on the issue of reparation, remedies that should come to the victims of violence, the protection of the victims, perpetrators and organisations that were working with the victims.

“I think communities want the truth, communities want to live peacefully together but what has been outstanding in the communities is the absence of this legislation, but mostly the unwillingness of the executive to ensure that the communities live together peacefully because the political reasons that come with it,” he said.

He said his organisation was working on a programme to lobby parliamentarians, individual legislators and the Parliamentary portfolio committee on peace and security among others, adding that this could only be effective if it included the voices of the victims.

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