PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has finally signed into law the Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission Act providing for the investigation and prosecution of members of security services for misconduct.
This follows complaints of human rights abuses and reports of alleged partisan conduct by members of the security forces in the discharge of their duties.There have also been reports of security forces leading violent attacks and abductions of members of the opposition and other government critics.
According to the latest Government Gazette, the Act provides for disciplinary proceedings and appropriate remedies in respect of any harm caused by any misconduct by members of the security services.
It aims to enhance accountability and transparency by the security services and their members in accordance with the principles of the Constitution.“Subject to this Act, the functions of the Commission are — (a) to investigate any complaint made by any person or on his or her behalf against any misconduct on the part of a member of a security service in the discharge or purported discharge of the member’s functions; (b) to investigate any contraventions of, or practices which do not comply with, sections 206(2) and (3) and 208 of the Constitution; Zimbabwe Independent Complaints Commission 114 No. 5/2022 Cap. 10:34,” reads the Act as outlined in the Government Gazette published on Friday.
The Act gives effect to Section 210 of the constitution that provides for an independent mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public.
In terms of procedure of reporting complaints, any person who is aggrieved by any act of misconduct by a member of a security service may make a written complaint to the Commission requesting it to investigate the act complained of.
The Commission, however, shall not investigate any complaint unless the complaint is submitted to it within three years of the date the act complained of occurred.The President or the minister may, at any stage during a hearing of or inquiry into a complaint, produce to the Commission a certificate in writing signed by the President or the minister to stop the public disclosure of any information specified in the certificate.
The commission may recommend the immediate release of any person from unlawful detention, payment of compensation to the complainant including redress through the courts for the prosecution against the alleged culprits in the uniformed forces.
In terms of the Constitution, members of the security services must act in accordance with this Constitution and the law and not act in a partisan manner or further the interests of any political party.