Waiting for justice


Alec Muchadehama

Farai Mabeza

ANDRISON Manyere was getting ready for the evening while his car was being repaired in Norton. Manyere, a videographer by profession, was also expecting a prospective client.
He got one later in the day, but it turned out the “client” that day, December 12, 2008, was part of a very well-organised and heavily armed gang that had come to abduct the unsuspecting Manyere. With his face hooded and in a vehicle that made a number of 360 degree spins to confuse his sense of direction, he was driven to a destination still unknown to him.
Ironically, along the way, the car played music from some of Manyere’s favourite artists, such as Leonard Zhakata and the late Marshall Munhumumwe.
“I started fearing for my life as I started thinking of some of the people who had also been abducted and killed. I was assaulted with fists. To my surprise the people knew my entire life history,” he recounted.
Underfed and tortured, Manyere was eventually surrendered at Rhodesville Police Station by his unknown abductors. He was later to be charged with committing acts of sabotage, banditry and terrorism aimed at unlawfully toppling the Zimbabwe government. His ordeal lasted almost six months.
And up to this day, the matter is still to be concluded by the courts as mental and physical trauma takes its toll on Manyere.
“Sometimes I forget important appointments that I would have made and it takes me longer to complete tasks I used to do easily,” said Manyere, who yearns for justice to be served, not just in terms of seeing his own case concluded, but also to see his captors brought to book.
Government recently gazetted the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill, which will operationalise the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).
The Bill has, however, been roundly condemned by some.
The National Transitional Justice Working Group of Zimbabwe (NTJWG) said the Bill was unconstitutional, pointing out that several sections of the NPRC Bill were ultra vires the Constitution.
“While the Constitution establishes an NPRC that is accountable to Parliament, the Bill creates an NPRC that is accountable to the Executive — being the Minister of National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation. While the Constitution establishes a Commission for 10 years, the Bill creates a Commission where the commissioners’ term of office can be terminated by the President at the end of a five year term,” NTJWG chairman, Alec Muchadehama, said.
To Manyere, this just proves his fears that government is not sincere.
“The Constitution creates commissioners with security of tenure, the Bill creates commissioners whose tenure can be terminated by the President at will. The constitution creates a Commission that has power to hire its own secretariat, the Bill gives the Minister power to appoint civil servants to work as the Secretariat of the NPRC,” Muchadehama explained.
Tony Reeler, a senior researcher at Research and Advocacy Unit, said the Bill would only result in endless acrimony and conflict.
“But this is hardly surprising and probably anticipated. The unconstitutional nature of the Bill will be subjected to rigorous legal analysis and criticism without any doubt, but it is equally important to examine the political thinking behind the Bill,” Reeler said.
Reeler said the Bill dealt with the “most contentious problem that the Constitution attempts to solve. It is the legacy of organised violence and torture that has afflicted Zimbabwe for over four decades”.
He said what necessitated the inclusion of a provision in the Constitution was government’s endless recourse to violent political problem solving and impunity.
So in essence this Bill is supposed to require that the ZANU-PF government holds itself accountable for its past atrocities.
“It is clear from this cynical draft Bill that yet another government will not hold itself accountable and will not give up the possibility of holding on to power through violent means. Therefore, we need to reject this Bill in its entirety, never mind the obvious violations of the Constitution,” Reeler said.
Manyere believes there would never be justice, peace and reconciliation without victims ever being compensated.
“The process of confession and forgiveness belongs to God. Here on earth you should compensate your victim. If the perpetrators feel some pain then they will not do it again. The commission is just face powder. It’s toothless. I don’t think it’s genuine,” he said.
His wait for justice looks set to be a long one with Muchadehama saying the current attempt through the drafting of the current Bill only “fashions an NPRC, which is technically lame and dependent on the tastes of politicians in view of the sensitive work it is mandated to address”.

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