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Gukurahundi rears its ugly head again as legislators discuss Mphoko’s Peace and Reconciliation bill

3.2       Clause 2: Interpretation

The interpretation section was viewed as being shallow and not aiding in the interpretation of words used in the Bill. For instance, members of the public cited the definition of ‘dispute’ that was equated to ‘conflict’ which was then defined to mean any dispute or conflict of a kind within the scope of the Commission’s constitutional mandate, which Constitution however does not provide a definition of a conflict. Stakeholders also noted that major terms used in a conflict situation are not defined in this Bill.

3.3       Clause 3: Powers, Procedures and Functions of Commission

Stakeholders raised concerns on the failure by the Bill to clearly categorise, list and define the functions of the Commission, its powers, procedures for handling complaints up to the stage of acquittal or conviction and conditions under which one is granted amnesty. It was a strong view that the functions of the Commission are not corresponding with the powers of the Commission.

3.4    Clause 4: Independence of the Commission

Stakeholders expressed concerns about the extent of the independence of the Commission in circumstances where the Minister of National Security is allowed to lodge a certificate to the effect that the disclosure of any evidence or document or class of evidence or documentation is, in his or her opinion, contrary to the public interest. Some concerns were also raised on the role of the Minister in the setting up of the secretariat arguing that this was some form of interference with the functions of the commission eroding its independence.

3.5    Clause 5: Seal of the Commission

No issues.

3.6    Clause 6: Offices and operations of Commission

A strong view was expressed that there is need for a clause sanctioning decentralisation by setting up offices even in very remote areas to ensure equal access to justice by all.

3.7    Clause 7: Removal of Members from Office

No issues.

3.8    Clause 8: Investigative Functions of Commission

Stakeholders took issue with Clause 8 (1) and submitted that it is vague, embarrassing and non-specific in that it does not define the nature of the dispute or conflict or of the action or the omission or what it means by authority and/or person. The public indicated that the nature of the dispute or issues to be investigated by the Commission must be described with sufficient detail so that the functions of the commission are transparent and clear to all. It was also submitted that its functions must be clearly demarcated from that of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

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