Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
THE Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, has urged the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to decentralise its operations by establishing offices in Bulawayo.
Advocate Mudenda said this while addressing Parliamentarians during a capacity building workshop for the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Thematic Committee on Human Rights on the mandate of the NPRC in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
The workshop was also attended by NPRC chairperson Retired Justice Sello Nare and NPRC commissioners. Advocate Mudenda urged the commission to prioritise the establishment of an office in Bulawayo so that all people who need help have access to the commission.
The Speaker of Parliament said the appointment of a national peace committee was also vital for the implementation of NPRC programmes.
“We need the national peace committee to guide the provincial and district committees. We can’t have a tree that has roots without a trunk and branches. It doesn’t work. I’m not the NPRC chairperson but I recommend that a national peace committee be appointed as soon as possible so that it drives the terms of reference for the peace committees at lower levels,” said Adv Mudenda.
He said once the terms of reference were clear at all levels, the mandate of the NPRC also becomes clearer in terms of implementation.
Adv Mudenda said the NPRC’s strategic plan was lacking the monitoring and evaluation aspect, which should come out prominently because it’s a tool for self-introspection and will assist in the crafting of a report for Parliament.
He also emphasised the need for the declassification of certain information such as the Chihambakwe Commission, which should be made public so that it can be used together with the Catholic Commission on Justice and Peace (CCJP) report titled “Breaking the Silence”, on past conflicts.
Adv Mudenda said the NPRC should also consider the experiences of war veterans.
“We need to address the issue of war veterans who are suffering a lot of trauma. We’ve tried to address the issues by giving them some pensions and so on but their problem goes beyond that. While they contributed a lot in winning the war, they’re suffering from severe internal conflict and they need help. “In America, for example, 20 war veterans commit suicide everyday because of the trauma they went through during the war,” said Adv Mudenda.
NPRC chairperson Rtd Justice Nare said Adv Mudenda made pertinent remarks that will pave the way for the direction to be taken by the commission. “This programme was initiated by the committee and called us to come and present what exactly we’re doing as a commission as well as the challenges we’re facing. There were a few areas which some committee members said have not been covered properly and that has been noted.
“The message has been heard, loud and clear. It was important for us to meet the committee because they’re the people that matter when our issues are presented in Parliament. I strongly believe that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Rtd Justice Nare. He said the workshop was successful, eye opening and made their work clearer.
“Adv Mudenda wondered why there is no NPRC office in Bulawayo. This is one of the things we’re considering so that people from areas outside Bulawayo can access the office and get assistance.
“We’ll meet as a commission, probably during the coming week, to deliberate on all the issues discussed and see how we map the way forward. The MPs now have a better understanding of our mandate and this makes our work easier and we also believe our work will be looked into with the significance it deserves,” said Rtd Justice Nare.
He said after looking into the issues raised, the NPRC will present its report to Vice President Kembo Mohadi as a matter of urgency. – @pamelashumba1.