Peace: The foundation for development
OUR mandate as National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) is enshrined in Section 252 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The operation of NPRC was promulgated on the 5th of January, 2018.
Since 2016, the Commission was only working on capacity-building.
I was then appointed on the 1st of March, 2018. What it means is that the other people had been in (the Commission) for two years and seven months.
They were operating with the Act since February; that is when they were able to visit the provinces, and you know there was that problem in Matebeleland about the composition of the Commission.
That stalled our progress and, in fact, there was a stage when they were taken to court by an NGO citing concerns that they were not operating properly and had no chairperson.
I think after that, we went back to the drawing body in order to visit the complaints that they had at the time - that the Commission did not have a chairperson.
We then polished up our operations, we had some capacity-building programmes and worked on strategic plans.
The strategic plan will be perfected next week (this week) on the 4th of October; that’s when the final document will be produced.
We will produce our strategic plan for the next five years. It’s unfortunate I cannot pre-empt the details now.
We looked at what we could do in as far as the strategic plan is concerned when we had the strategic plan seminar in Bulawayo and then we came up with a fiveyear plan wherein we were able to say what we wanted to do.
One of the first things we dealt with was the issue of elections. We were strongly involved in the elections. We were involved in the promotion of the peace pledges by political party candidates.
In the peace pledge, political parties pledged to be peaceful and we had that meeting on the 26th of June 2018, where those who were aspiring to be the President participated. We had 22 people who aspired to be the President.
We initially had 23 presidential candidates, but 22 actually made the pledges.
Thereafter, we dealt with issues of peace pledges from June and the rest of July in the provinces.
We also went around encouraging people to be peaceful during the time of elections. We visited all the provinces.
We did that using what we called a ‘peace caravan’, encouraging Zimbabweans to observe peace. What was happening was that we had three actors who would pretend to have quarrels, then, finally, they would strike peace.
That started on the 21st of July to the 28th. We had two caravans as we went around promoting peace.
We were all involved in the monitoring of the elections.
We were actually observers in all the provinces. We divided ourselves into the observation centres.
Now, on the disturbances that took place in Harare (on August 1), we were not supposed to be in the Commission that was set because the Act excludes us, particularly when the police is involved. If there are investigations taking place, we should not be involved at all, although some people feel we should have been involved.
Section 8 of the (NPRC) Act stipulates that even when a tribunal or Commission of inquiry is involved, as is the case here, NPRC should not be involved. We will wait for the report from the Commission of inquiry and then act after that.
Even if we wanted to be involved, we are limited by the law.
Our role is to try and heal conflicts and divisions through meetings. We try to heal that; that’s why we have the reconciliation arm. We have it in our plans now. As it is, we are working on it, we will be going out to the people.
We will be going out, particularly in areas of Gukurahundi. We should be visiting those areas as a matter of urgency, and we couldn’t do that before the finalisation of our strategic plan, which is going to take place on the 4th of October 2018.
It is the approach that we will be looking into when we have this meeting on the 4th of October.
But maybe let me say, at the beginning of the year, there was some hostility (towards the Commission), but we were then able to go there and talk to the people during the time we had the pledges.
The peace caravan, the visits to those areas, the dialogue with the communities and organisations in those areas created some form of understanding with the communities in Matebeleland.
I was invited on Sunday (last Sunday) to go and address a Lutheran Church gathering on the issue of Gukurahundi - how I see it, and the dialogue was very useful.
With help from a man of the cloth, the discussions were frank and very helpful and their approach to peace was excellent.
We had been invited by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) for a function there and most of the questions were centred on the Commission, on how we are going to tackle this issue. The way we will approach it and how we will talk to the people will create a difference.
We will lay out our plans and the media will be invited. We will say exactly how we will tackle some of these conflicts that have taken place. It’s a five-year strategic plan, which, unfortunately, I cannot divulge the details now.
You will see on the 4th what we are laying out for that period. Some of the issues we decided to start with were the elections.
One other thing that has been encouraging is that President Mnangagwa himself has emphasised and preached peace. He has been open and recently you might have heard him saying, “Well, I am waiting for people to tell me about the Commission and give me a report, and when the Commission say I must do this, I will certainly do it.”
Yes, I think peace is necessary. We have to be a peaceful nation. With peace, we will be able to strike development and that honesty within us of coming together in peace will be very helpful. We will achieve nothing if we are not peaceful. Next week (this week), we will engage the Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate (Jacob) Mudenda so that we have time to talk to parliamentarians and preach the message of peace.
We hope the same message will also be preached in their constituencies.
◆ Justice Selo Nare, chairperson of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), was speaking to The Sunday Mail reporter Norman Muchemwa last week.