By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
The appointment of Obert Gutu to be a commissioner at the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPCR) has been challenged due to his membership of the ruling Zanu PF party.
On July 1, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) filed an application at the High Court seeking an order that Gutu cease to to be a commissioner when he publicly joined Zanu PF in May this year.
In a statement, ZimRights said Guti did not relinquish his membership when he was appointed a commissioner by President Emmerson Mnangagwa making him conflicted.
“Gutu’s appointment as a Commissioner of the National Peace and Reconciliation on May 7, 2021 by the President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa came shortly after he publicly joined a political party namely the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (Zanu PF).
“In terms of section 236 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013, if a commissioner of an independent commission is a member of a political organization on his appointment, they must relinquish that political party membership within 30 days of the appointment or they immediately cease to be a Commissioner,” he said.
ZimRights added that the Constitution requires that independent commissions are apolitical and independent from any political influence.
The matter is yet to be determined by the High Court.
The former opposition MDC-T spokesperson formally joined Zanu PF in March and he was paraded at State House by Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga. He joined together with former MDC Alliance Senator for Chitungwiza James Makore.
Gutu was recently taken to task after he appeared to downplay the gravity of the Gukurahundi Massacres, calling it “a small tiny fraction” of the issues his commission is dealing with.
The killings were led by the late former Lands Minister Perrance Shiri between 1983 and 1987. Shiri also known as ‘Black Jesus’ during those years was then Commander of the notorious Fifth Brigade which massacred innocent civilians in the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was State Security minister at the time of the killings.
The Fifth Brigade brutally crushed any resistance and many atrocities were committed. An estimated 20,000 civilians died and were buried in mass graves and to this day the issue has not been addressed.
The intensity of their actions during the mid-1980s is associated with a specific Shona word: Gukurahundi. This is most simply translated as “the rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains.” Nehanda Radio