Zimbabwe: New Commission to Act On Public Complaints

Senior Reporter

An independent commission to receive and investigate complaints from the public on acts of misconduct by members of the security services will soon be established following the tabling in the National Assembly yesterday of the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Bill.

The Bill was gazetted in November last year in fulfilment of Section 210 of the Constitution.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi tabled the Bill yesterday which was immediately referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee to check its compliance with the Constitution.

The Memorandum of the Bill states that the envisaged commission seeks to remedy any harm caused by any misconduct on the part of any member of the security and that the Commission should be independent from each of the security services.

The acts of misconduct in the Bill relate to any criminal or other act by a security services member contrary to the proper exercise of their functions as specified in the Constitution and includes but is not limited to; any death in the custody of any member of a security service; any death as a result of actions of any member of a security service; unjustified discharge of an official firearm by any member of a security service; rape of any person while that person is in the custody of a security service and the torture or assault of any person by a member of a security service in the execution of the member's duties among others.

The commission will comprise a chairperson appointed by the President, after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, and four other members appointed by the President from a list of not fewer than seven nominees submitted by Parliament. In addition to the membership of the Commission, the chairperson of the commission shall invite the head of each security service to appoint a serving or retired member of that service of sufficient seniority to sit together with the membership of the commission whenever it is investigating or conducting an inquiry into any alleged act of misconduct on the part of any member or former member of that security service.

The commissioners must not be politically partisan; belong to any political party or organisation, nor may they be Members of Parliament, local authorities, parastatals or other government-controlled entities.

The President will have power to dismiss commissioners from office for conduct inconsistent with their membership of the commission or because they lack qualifications for appointment, or if they fail to attend three or more consecutive meetings.

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