Hands off the Complaints Commission, the security sector said
By the Bulawayo correspondent
PARTICIPANTS at a public hearing on the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission bill in Bulawayo on Tuesday called on authorities to spare quasi-state institutions the involvement of personnel with backgrounds in the security sector, fearing that this compromises the independence of the committees.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and Defense and Home Affairs is holding public hearings across the country to seek public opinion on the new bill, the aim of which is to provide for the implementation establishing an independent complaints mechanism for members of the public against members of the security services, in accordance with article 210 of the Constitution.
“We want a truly independent and transparent commission that is not dominated by representatives of political parties.
“We are calling for the appointment of a competent spokesperson who will be able to respond to media inquiries.
“The person must be able to decipher what is of public interest in the face of sensitive matters which may require the protection of certain individuals,” said a participant at the meeting.
Another participant said that no serving or retired security service member should be allowed to become a commissioner.
“We don’t want the current scenario where most of the commissions are full of retired soldiers.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate that a former member of the security services is involved in the Commission because the security sector has been accused of violating human rights.
“We need civilians in the Commission who are not compromised,” said Umzingwane lawmaker participant Brigadier General Rtd who chaired the committee Levi Mayihlome.
The bill, which has already been approved by the cabinet, will make it possible to investigate citizens’ complaints against members of the security services.
Recently, a United Nations expert described a series of “extremely disturbing” abuses committed by Zimbabwe’s security forces following a fact-finding mission to the country.
Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, issued a statement describing reports of excessive, disproportionate and murderous use of force against protesters, for through tear gas, batons and live ammunition.
The committee split into two groups, with Group B focusing on the southern region while Group A focusing on the northern region.