ZimRights takes aim at ‘political activist’ Obert Gutu

Zimstar News

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association ((zimRights) has bemoaned the deployment of what it says are political activists into the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), in the process, compromising its integrity.

In a statement to mark International Day of Peace Tuesday, ZimRights also red-flagged government for “overthrowing” the peace commission in terms of executing its mandate over the Gukurahundi atrocities.

Gutu, a former MDC legislator and top party official, joined Zanu PF this year.

He was later appointed Commissioner in the NPRC by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He is now spokesperson of the commission.

In one of the Commission’s interviews, Gutu torched a storm through comments the massacre of an estimated 20 000 civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces by the military back in the early years of independence was “a small, tiny fraction of the various other disputes we are talking about”.

His controversial comments ignited calls for his resignation.

Said ZimRights in its statement, “During the course of the year, we have documented serious violations of human rights that are an affront to our Constitutional obligations to work for the peace and justice of all.

“…The overthrowing of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) from discharging its mandate regarding the Gukurahundi atrocity as well as deploying political activists to damage the NPRC’s reputation.”

Although its comments were apparently directed as Gutu, ZimRights did not mention the politician by name.

Government has also come under fire for allegedly usurping the duties of the peace commission through leading processes aimed at resolving the Gukurahundi atrocities.

Added ZimRights, “As we commemorate the International Day of Peace, ZimRights calls on the government of Zimbabwe to…stop the systematic attacks on the integrity and mandate on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and provide the necessary resources for the commission to do its work.”

READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of Peace which was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. In 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of nonviolence and cease-fire.

This year’s commemorations that are running under the 2021 theme “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world,” speak well to the Zimbabwean situation. ZimRights believes that as we heal from Covid19 pandemic, displacements and many other crises we are facing as a nation, we can collectively recover better and build a peaceful nation.

ZimRights calls on government to put enablers to ensure nation building, put policies and programs that restore stability and ensure sustainable Peace which can be achieved when we create a culture of human rights.

Through the ZimRights Right to Peace Campaign, we have continuously capacitated and strengthened Zimbabwean communities through new infrastructure for Peace and strengthening existing peace cultures. The ZimRights Rights to Peace campaign builds on three fundamental beliefs which are:

  • The understanding of peace as a right
  • Activating community tools and cultures of peace
  • Linking the national peace architecture with community structures.

When we understand that Peace is a fundamental human right whose foundation is in the Bill of Rights, we will embrace the consequent obligation to build it. We believe that the first pillars in the journey to build sustainable peace is respecting human rights.

ZimRights therefore calls on the government of Zimbabwe to participate in the peacebuilding journey by respecting the rights of the people of Zimbabwe as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. During the course of the year, we have documented serious violations of human rights that are an affront to our Constitutional obligations to work for the peace and justice of all.

  • The displacement of communities from their ancestral and agricultural lands to pave way for big businesses that are owned by friends and families of the ruling elite.
  • The overthrowing of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) from discharging its mandate regarding the Gukurahundi atrocity as well as deploying political activists to damage the NPRC’s reputation.
  • The suspension of elections as an avenue through which ordinary people directly influence how they are governed.
  • The massive looting of public funds and natural resources by politically exposed persons depriving the poor of their right to education, healthcare, clean water and a safe environment.

These few among many make a mockery of the peace tenets espoused by our Constitution.

As we commemorate the International Day of Peace, ZimRights calls on the government of Zimbabwe to the following:

▪ Stop the displacement of people from their homes as this is a violation of their dignity and their right to shelter.

▪ Stop the systematic attacks on the integrity and mandate on the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) and provide the necessary resources for the commission to do its work.

▪ Repeal Statutory Instrument 225A of 2020 and allow by-elections to resume in the areas affected by the illegal recalls.

▪ Investigate allegations of grand corruption and prosecute perpetrators.

ZimRights further calls upon the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) as the commission charged with advancing the national goals on peace and reconciliation to adhere to its constitutional mandate, maintain its independence and regain the confidence of the people of Zimbabwe. The NPRC must further distance itself from political activists that a bent on destroying its credibility.

ZimRights offers its solidarity with all the Zimbabwean communities that have never known peace in a long time, encouraging them to become remain vigilant in the pursuit of peace.

Issued by the ZimRights Information Department

 info@zimrights.org.zw I www.zimrig