Parliament through the Joint Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Defence and Home Affairs is currently holding public hearings on the Independent Complaints Commission Bill (H.B.5, 2020).The public hearings run from the 7th-11th of June 2021 in various places. Section 210 of the Constitution provides for an Independent Complaints Mechanism. For the operationalisation of this mechanism, an Act of Parliament must provide an effective and independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public about the misconduct on the part of members of the security services and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct. The security services in Zimbabwe consist, as detailed under Section 207 of the Constitution, of the: Defense Forces; Police Service; Intelligence Services; and Prisons and Correctional Service, and any other security services established by Act of Parliament.
The Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill was gazetted on the 24th November 2020, in fulfillment of Section 210 of the Constitution. This came after the Constitutional Court issued an order in favour of Hilton Chironga and Heal Zimbabwe Director, Rashid Mahiya compelling the government to gazette a Bill for the Act envisaged by Section 210 of the Constitution by the 9th of November 2020.
Below are some of the contributions from the Bulawayo and Chinhoyi public hearings that were concluded on 8 June 2021;
- The majority of participants at the Bulawayo public hearing highlighted that once operational, the Independent Complaints Commission was supposed to prosecute members of the security services who committed the Gukurahundi atrocities.
- The Independent Commission must investigate Gukurahundi and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted
- The Bill must clearly spell out that the Commission will deal with violations committed since independence. Atrocities that it must deal with include Gukurahundi
- The Commission must be independent, members of the security services must not serve in the commission
- This bill gives the President more powers to appoint individuals that serve in the Commission
- The bill does not provide for 50/50 gender representation for personnel that will serve in the Commission
- The Commission must have a competent spokesperson who will be able to articulate and give regular updates on the work of the commission
- The Commission must not be funded by individuals but by government and other sources
- The bill must have provisions that include the appointment of people with disabilities to serve in the commission as Commissioners
- The Commission must be accountable to Parliament and must also submit annual reports
- The bill is silent on the need to protect witnesses who report cases of human rights to the Commission
- Members of the security services must not serve in the Commission
- The Bill must clearly spell out that the Commission will deal with violations committed since independence. Atrocities that it must deal with include 2008 violence
- The bill must specify how the Commission will be decentralized to rural areas
- The Commission must be given arresting powers so that members of the security services that perpetrate human rights violations are arrested
- The three year prescription of the tenure of the commission is restrictive. This denies redress from citizens who have been violated by members of the security services
- Members of the security services must be apolitical and treat everyone the same
- The Commission must decentralise but it must deploy personnel who speak local languages
- The bill must specify penalties for members of the security services who violate human rights of citizens
- The bill gives the President sweeping powers when making appointments. He does not even consult with the Judicial Services Commission
Heal Zimbabwe will continue to monitor Parliamentary processes such as public hearings on bill as this enhances citizen participation in the crafting of laws.
Source: Heal Zimbabwe