By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) has allegedly been rocked by divisions with some commissioners said to be unhappy over the government’s lack of commitment in addressing past human rights abuses and conflicts.
Commissioners that spoke on condition of anonymity said the NPRC was financially handicapped and said they feared the constitutional body was becoming “a talk-show platform with nothing to show for its existence”.
The NPRC has already lost six years of its 10-year lifespan as it was not operational from 2013 as expected after the promulgation of the new constitution due to lack of an enabling Act to operationalise it.
It has a backlog of cases. In February, MDC Alliance proportional representation legislator Concillia Chinanzvavana had to take President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the Masvingo High Court, seeking a ruling forcing him to extend the tenure of the NPRC by 10 years from 2018.
Justice Joseph Mafusire ruled in Chinanzvavana’s favour, meaning the NPRC will be operational until 2028, but to date, its lifespan has not been extended and is set to expire in 2023.
The NPRC was allocated
$1,7 million in the 2019 national budget against its $4,7 million bid, a figure dismissed as grossly inadequate at the time to fund its operations.
In December, the NPRC appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Senate’s Thematic Committee on Human Rights and pleaded incapacitation because of inadequate funding from the Treasury.
In August, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube allocated an additional $125,5 million to the NPRC which was too be shared with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and the Zimbabwe Judiciary Services Commission (ZJSC).
“There is a big challenge when it comes to funding the operations of the NPRC, and it all appears to be deliberate,” said a disgruntled commissioner.
“For example, we are supposed to be going to rural areas for various work, but to date there is no funding and other resources for that and we have to do with a shoe-string budget.
Another commissioner claimed that the NPRC was being destabilised from within.
“There are some even amongst us in the NPRC who are also clearly sabotaging NPRC programmes, they are a stumbling block to frustrate the NPRC and one is left questioning whose interests they are representing, the state or the commission?
“There is no political will, hence the NPRC has nothing to show for it besides being more of a talk-show body,” the disgruntled commissioner lamented.
NPRC chairperson Justice Selo Nare, however, brushed aside the allegations claiming that the commission has been working very hard to fulfil its mandate.
“We are working so hard,” he said. “We have been having meetings and so forth and on Monday. We are on the ground on Monday (tomorrow). We will be meeting members of the Ukuthula Trust in Bulawayo.”
Bulawayo-based Ukuthula Trust is an independent body of forensic archaeologists and forensic anthropologists that has carried exhumation of the Gukurahundi victims, the last being the bodies of Justin Tshuma and Thembi Ngwenya in Tsholotsho’s Enkwalini community in May who were killed by the Fifth Brigade in March 1983.
Government officials have sought to stall the exhumations and re-burials of Gukurahundi victims with Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage deputy minister Mike Madiro saying they should be stayed until a policy on carrying out the process is crafted.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa opened dialogue on the 1980s mass killings holding the first meeting with the clergy and Matabeleland civic groups under the banner Matabeleland Collective and then traditional leaders at State House in Bulawayo.
He has announced a cocktail of measures in addressing the issue such as facilitating exhumations and reburials.
However, little or nothing has taken place since the March meeting at Bulawayo State House despite several commitments.
“The government is not sincere at all when it says it wants to address the Gukurahundi atrocities. It’s just talk and delay. It has not been walking the talk on this one. If it had been sincere, it would have turned the talk into practical solutions on the ground by now,” said Effie Ncube, a Bulawayo-based political analyst.