Auxilia Katongomara/Mbonisi Nleya, Chronicle Reporters
SOME Bulawayo civil society groups led by separatist movement Mthwakazi Republic Party yesterday disrupted National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) stakeholder consultations challenging the composition of the Commission.
The activists said the Commission did not represent diverse ethnic groups as it was dominated by Shona- speaking people.
They also demanded an independent Commission not headed by Government.
The meeting, held at the Brethren in Christ Church, failed to proceed smoothly as youths from MRP disrupted the deputy chairperson, Mrs Lillian Chigwedere, soon after she introduced the commissioners.
Mrs Chigwedere, in her opening remarks, gave a brief background of the Commission and stated how the commissioners were selected.
Soon after introducing the Commissioners, the placard-wielding youths immediately began to protest against the Commission’s composition and demanded that the Commissioners leave the podium.
The activists claimed there were too many Shona people which eventually discredited its sincerity in conducting its duties.
Men of the cloth who were at the meeting tried to contain the situation but failed as the activists ensured that the meeting did not go as planned.
They carried placards all around the church and sang songs in front of the podium demanding that the commissioners leave.
Commissioner Leslie Ncube, who is from Gwanda, tried in vain to restore order as the defiant youths said the meeting would not go on as long as the rest of the Commissioners were around.
Speakers at the meeting demanded that the commissioners immediately leave the podium so that no meeting goes ahead.
Former magistrate and Zapu elder, Mr Johnson Mnkandla, encouraged the youths to form a committee which would hand over their grievances to Government but was shot down by the activists.
Mr Mbuso Fuzwayo from Bhetshu Likazulu said there is a need for an Independent Commission.
“We are hurting very much and we need healing. We need an international Independent Commission because this one cannot preside over burning issues as it is an interested party. In fact the Commission does not have a locus standi to preside because they were appointed by the Government. We need an Independent Commission,” said Mr Fuzwayo.
President of the Mthwakazi Republic Party Mr Mqondisi Moyo said his party members chased away the commissioners because they did not represent the wishes and aspirations of the people.
“There have been some Commissions before like the Dumbutshena Commission; those Commissions never gave out those findings. We need those findings before we can move forward. We need also an independent body like CCJP. Six of the commissioners are Shona so we need a representative Commission which has all other ethnic groupings,” said Mr Moyo.
Mthulisisi Hanana, the director of the Dumiso Dabengwa Foundation, said it was important for the Commission to listen to the voice of the people.
The commissioners walked out of the meeting after about two hours as the activists switched off the PA system, prematurely ending the meeting.
The NPRC commissioners took with them placards handed over by the protesters.
Soon after their departure, civil society groups began to share the contributions they had jotted down before dispersing.
In an interview after the commotion, Mrs Chigwedere said the disruptions were an eye opener to the Commission.
“It was good for the Commission to be here and to see and hear what the people were saying. It gives us the reality on the ground of what the people of this region really want to be addressed. I think it was clear from speaker after speaker what they want addressed and even the disruptions that occurred are part of the whole process. We wouldn’t have seen this if we had not come here,” said Mrs Chigwedere.
She said the Commission cannot address the issue of its composition.
“As the far as the composition, it’s not our mandate to address it but we have heard the people’s concerns and in our programming and recommendations, we will see how we can take that message back to the nation because the commission is a Constitutional body which was put in place by the people of Zimbabwe.
“The composition aspect of it can be dealt with better by other organisations not the Commission. I think I highlighted how the Commissioners were appointed from Parliament to the interviews up to the appointment,” said Mrs Chigwedere.
Commissioners at the meeting were Patience Chiradza, Choice Ndoro, Charles Masunungure, Geoffrey Chada, Leslie Ncube, Netty Musanhu and Godfrey Chekenyere.