(Reposted from: The Chronicle. September 28, 2020)
Government must develop a comprehensive policy to address protection of witnesses, victims and survivors of violent conflicts and a policy to integrate, mainstream or introduce peace education in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
By Mashudu Netsianda
Vice President Kembo Mohadi said Government should promote the teaching of all indigenous languages in schools, including those spoken by minority groups and urged Parliament to speed up the enactment of an enabling legislation to officialise languages in line with the Constitution.
Zimbabwe recognises 16 indigenous languages, with Venda, Tonga, Nambya, Kalanga, Sotho and Shangaan among others, but only Shona and Ndebele have for a long time been taught in schools up to university level.
Historical factors such as colonialism had a huge impact on languages, resulting in the marginalisation and rapid decline in the use of indigenous and minority languages.
VP Mohadi said State and non-state institutions should promote programmes which foster tolerance, equality, build social cohesion among Zimbabweans as part of recommendations contained in the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) 2019 annual report, which he tabled before the Senate last Thursday.
Other recommendations are that Government must develop a comprehensive policy to address protection of witnesses, victims and survivors of violent conflicts and a policy to integrate, mainstream or introduce peace education in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
In the report, NPRC also recommended that the roles of the Fallen Heroes Trust and the ZIPRA War Veterans Trust pertaining to exhumations and reburials be clearly defined and harmonised.
VP Mohadi, who chairs the Cabinet Committee on National Peace and Reconciliation, said in the period under review, the NPRC was involved in various activities that included conflict prevention and peace building initiatives during and after the 2018 harmonised elections.
There was also the signing of the peace pledge by the 21 presidential candidates that contested the elections, engagements with Government following the August 1, 2018 demonstrations and the launch of the 2018-2022 strategic plan.
“In the report, the Commission makes the following recommendations to this august House: that the State and non-state institutions promote programmes which foster tolerance, equality, build social cohesion among Zimbabweans, Government should promote and resource historians to document inclusive story lines that reframe and capture agreeable narratives about Zimbabwe’s history and promote national shared vision,” he said.
“Parliament should enact enabling legislation to officialise languages in line with the Constitution and that Government promote the tuition of all indigenous languages.”
VP Mohadi said NPRC recommended that devolution and the enactment of the Provincial Councils Act to operationalise provincial structures must be prioritised.
He said other recommendations contained in the report included strengthening of existing laws to outlaw elements of hate speech by public officials, institutions, media houses and citizens in public spaces, social, print and electronic media.
“The recommendations of the NPRC seek to contribute to social cohesion, unity and tolerance among Zimbabweans. The recommendations seek to contribute to positive policy and legal environment for peace as well as an improved architecture for conflict prevention at national and sub-national levels.”
Others included that organisations and institutions should develop programmes and activities that promote development and that capacity building for enforcement agencies, prosecutors and the Judiciary in relation to hate speech be conducted. “That the current National Development Strategy being developed prioritises devolution and that Parliament expedites the enactment of the Provincial Councils Act in line with the Constitution in order to operationalise devolved structures,” said VP Mohadi.
Other recommendations include deployment of monitoring and evaluation staff in all Government departments to monitor support programmes for fairness, adequacy and non-partisanship, that security services mainstream peace studies in the curricula, including education on internal complaints handling and feedback mechanisms and that the NPRC be well resourced.
“The recommendations of the NPRC seek to contribute to social cohesion, unity and tolerance among Zimbabweans. The recommendations seek to contribute to positive policy and legal environment for peace as well as an improved architecture for conflict prevention at national and sub-national levels,” said VP Mohadi.
“Madam President, the recommendations of the NPRC herein will foster enhanced national capacities for sustaining peace, promote healing and reconciliation as well as inclusive healing and reconciliation process that address legacies of violent conflicts.”
In 2019, the NPRC’s thrust was to engage the communities on the ground, which included the establishment of Provincial Peace Committees as part of its strategy to develop structures for conflict prevention, complaints handling and investigations, engagements with various stakeholders such as traditional leaders, political parties, civil society organisations and the security sector.
NPRC also sought to prepare for public and private hearings to help victims of past conflicts secure closure, healing and reconciliation, pioneering programmes to promote social cohesion as well as conducting scenario analysis programmes in order to anticipate future potential conflicts.
VP Mohadi said NPRC failed to fulfill some of its goals last year primarily because of inadequate financial resources as a result of the hyper-inflationary environment.