Heal Zimbabwe Trust and ZIMCET take Independent Commissions to communities

April 6, 2016

HEAL Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) and Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) have embarked on community campaigns to raise awareness of the roles and functions of the five Independent Commissions provided for under Zimbabwe’s new constitution.

The project trains a selected group of community-based peace advocates on the provisions of Independent Commissions in Zimbabwe’s new constitution so that they have the knowledge, skills and tools to monitor human rights in their communities.

The commission includes the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC), Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC). A key objective of the commissions is to support and firmly root human rights and democracy in society.

In February, HEAL Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) and Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) held commissions awareness raising campaigns in Buhera, Bikita and Gokwe, rural areas in Zimbabwe.

A total of 65 community peace club members attended the programme, which targeted community opinion leaders and specifically publicised the ZHRC and the NPRC.

“We are raising awareness around the constitutionally provided commissions that support democracy and human rights, in particular, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Human Rights Commission,” said Michelle Duma, ZIMCET’s Programmes Coordinator.

Traditional leaders acknowledged that information regarding the functions of the commissions was lacking in their communities.

“We are starved for information outside of Harare. This is why we continue to face violations such as unequal distribution of food aid. Up to now, we have not heard of the ZHRC. This is our first time hearing about the NPRC,” said a village head in Buhera.

The HZT and ZIMCET campaigns are trying to change the reigning lack of information among citizens of the functions of the independent commissions. According to HZT and ZIMCET, the Zimbabwe government needs to decentralise the operations of the commissions to increase geographical coverage and ease of access by citizens. The two organisations also urged the government to ensure that the eventual NPRC Act is victim focussed so that it can achieve its constitutional mandate of ensuring post conflict justice, healing and reconciliation.

Since September 2014, the Royal Netherlands Embassy (RNE) in partnership with Hivos Southern Africa has been supporting Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) and Heal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) to build a sustainable human rights culture in Zimbabwe. Both ZIMCET and HZT have been fostering peace in Zimbabwe though advocacy and community peace building projects and are collaborating on the initiative entitled: “Building a Sustainable Human Rights Culture in Zimbabwe.