Remarks by National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) commissioner, Obert Gutu, to the effect that the emotive Gukurahundi issue is just a “small, tiny fraction” of their mandate have confirmed the body is a waste of resources, analysts have told CITE.
Speaking at a news conference in Harare Tuesday, Gutu said: I think Gukurahundi is just a small tiny fraction of various other disputes we are talking about. We are talking of issues that happened in 2005; Murambatsvina, you are talking of various other issues, some dating back to pre-independence times.”
However, this has not gone down well with many Zimbabweans who have since blasted him, describing his utterances as reckless.
About 20, 000 Zimbabweans were killed in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early 1980s by the Fifth Brigade deployed by the government under the guise of getting rid of dissidents.
The issue remains unresolved 41 years after the country attained its independence.
“Obert Gutu is temperamentally and professionally unqualified for the job of an independent commissioner,” said political analyst Effie Ncube.
“He is an extension of Zanu-PF and still speaks on behalf of Zanu-PF which he always was. He should not have been in the NPRC. In addition to that it demonstrates that the NPRC is a compromised body that won’t be able to deal with a very sensitive matter of the Gukurahundi genocide.”
He said there was a need for an independent judiciary body composed of international experts on mass atrocities to deal with the Gukurahundi genocide.
“I want to emphasize that the way Gutu has spoken, he has spoken like a Zanu-PF activist, not an independent commissioner and also he has confirmed what people have always thought that the NPRC was a waste of time. It was never going to deliver on what people wanted and therefore it should be abolished and stop wasting people’s money.”
Ncube added: “Victims and survivors expect people of serious reputation to handle this matter and there is no one out there in the NPRC who can be said to be of the required independent standing to deliver on what the victims and survivors expect.”
Fortune Mlalazi, a public administrator, said it was regrettable that Gutu had chosen to ignore principles in favour of his position.
“The challenge that we have about people like Gutu is that they decided to abandon their principles and run after positions and money therefore they always want to be relevant and unfortunately we always give them relevance,” he said.
“Gutu knows very well that what he was saying is wrong and those issues are very sensitive and he can’t say that. Anyway, as a commissioner in that commission, I am sure he has been briefed on what they must achieve. So Gutu’s attitude and behaviour is a reflection of his handlers.”
He however said Zimbabweans should not fall into the temptation of attacking and dealing with Gutu but his Zanu-PF handlers.
Secretary-general for pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu, Mbuso Fuzwayo said Gutu’s statement was unacceptable.
“As an organisation we are not surprised that this is the position of the NPRC, which over time has proven to be a tool of the perpetrator to buy time and make the national tragedy a joke,” said Fuzwayo.
“Notwithstanding its composition that remains an insult to the survivors of Gukurahundi genocide and any progressive nation, the appointment of Obert Gutu removed all doubt about the government’s unwillingness to find a lasting solution Gukurahundi genocide. Gutu’s history of fraternising with the Zanu pf regime dates back to the days of Gukurahundi genocide where he was part of the judiciary system that was a vital tool in human rights violations.”Fuzwayo further said: “The NPRC has proven that it is nothing but a waste of the tax-payers funds, composed of individuals that are not up to the great national task which is supposed to help the nation find true peace and reconciliation. It’s very unfortunate and sad that the whole NPRC can sit and agree that the genocide which claimed a minimum of 20 000 lives, left thousands of women abused, raped, scores bayoneted, many people displaced tortured and forcibly disappeared is nothing but a “small, tiny fraction”.”
He said they remained unfazed by the NPRC, adding they would soldier on fighting for justice, truth and a victim-centred solution.
Sipho Nyoni, another political analyst said Gutu should not be taken seriously since he is singing for his supper.
“It’s not really amazing coming from someone who’s really trying so hard to sing for his supper,” said Nyoni.
“He knows how emotive and sensitive the whole Gukurahundi issue is and yet he deliberately chose to belittle it, perhaps even more interesting is that as a then young lawyer this very Gutu was part of the team of commissioners that were in the Chihambakwe Commission that was meant to investigate the Gukurahundi genocide and thereafter publish its findings. Up to now that very report has never been published and has been tightly kept under lock and key.”
Nyoni said Gutu and Zanu-PF remain indifferent and insensitive to the sufferings endured by the people of Matabeleland and in the Midlands during the Gukurahundi atrocities.
“His statement is a further stab or jab on the hearts of the long suffering Matabeleland and Midlands people who have experienced the trauma of this genocidal episode,” he said.
“Gutu should be fired from the commission; it’s only in a banana republic where you have someone denying a whole genocide and sarcastically dismissing it the way he has done.”