By Farai Dauramanzi
The National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) has come up with minimum standards for an effective National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and guidelines for gender mainstreaming.
Speaking at a press briefing that was held on Monday 1 December 2014, the chairperson of NTJWG Alec Muchadehama said that his organisation acknowledged the need for the country to urgently set up independent commissions such as the NPRC as set out in Chapter 12 of the new constitution.
“We note that the operationalisation of independent commissions is critical because some of the commissions like the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission are time bound. We thus wish today to set in motion an important conversation on the NPRC by introducing the minimum standards for an effective NPRC, incorporating the guidelines for effective gender mainstreaming,” said Muchadehama.
The NPRC is to be established through a provision in the new constitution to address past conflicts and ensure that lasting peace is achieved in the country. However, the commission is yet to be formulated with Parliament still to come up with a bill for its operationalisation.
Muchadehama said that NTJWG was calling upon Parliament to consider seriously the standards his organisation was presenting and highlighted the need for increased public participation. The prominent lawyer also said that his organisation believes that independent commissions such as the NPRC will derive their credibility from the transparent manner they will be set-up and the way they will carry out their work.
“It is of utmost importance for a commission charged with bringing post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation to be put together through a transparent public process so that the people of Zimbabwe, especially the survivors of human rights violations have a sense of ownership of the process,” explained Muchadehama.
Muchadehama also said that the NPRC must reflect gender balance in line with the constitution and that the commissioners must not be selected secretly and announced suddenly.
“Their (commissioners) selection must be subjected to scrutiny and public discussion. The whole selection process up to the appointment of the commissioners should be consultative,” said Muchadehama on behalf of NTJWG.
“The commissioners must satisfy beyond doubt the criteria set out in Section 251(4) of the constitution which says that members of the NPRC must be chosen for their integrity and their knowledge and understanding of , and experience in mediation, conciliation, conflict prevention and management, post conflict reconciliation or peace building,” said Muchadehama.
The NTJWG is an organisation that was formed this year by 46 non-state Zimbabwean actors to provide interface between transitional justice stakeholders and the official transitional justice processes.