National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) spokesperson, Commissioner Obert Gutu, escaped humiliation in Bulawayo Wednesday at a provincial peace committee meeting where local activists and political parties had planned to confront him about his previous statements on Gukurahundi.
Gutu did not turn up for the meeting as had been anticipated.
In June, Commissioner Gutu, made statements to the effect that the emotive Gukurahundi issue is just a “small, tiny fraction” of various other disputes the NPRC was handling.
Over 20 000 Zimbabweans were killed in Matabeleland and Midlands in the early 1980s by the Fifth Brigade army deployed by the government under the guise of weeding out dissidents.
Gutu’s statements did not go down well with many Zimbabweans who blasted him, describing his utterances as reckless, while arguing that the NPRC was a waste of resources.
The commission is conducting preventive dialogue engagements, which was also a platform for provincial peace committees to meet and engage with the new NPRC commissioners who were sworn into office by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in May this year.
However, Gutu was not present at the meeting including NPRC chairperson, Retired Judge Selo Nare, who is said to be not feeling well.
Various stakeholders including representatives of political parties, churches, youths and activists attended Wednesday’s peace meeting in which some of them wanted to scold him.
“If Gutu had come to today’s meeting I was prepared to sleep at the police cells because I was going to confront him and tell him my peace of mind right here in this meeting. The man is not fit to be a commissioner in that body. It is good that he decided to not come for whatever reasons,” said Partone Xaba, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP)’s National Organising Secretary.
Xaba claimed the NPRC was an extension of the Zanu-PF, as Gutu had openly joined the ruling party and later pretended not to have declared his political preferences.
United Movement for Devolution (UMD), Organising Secretary, Artwell Sibanda, said he was also prepared to confront Gutu for his reckless statements.
“Following his unfortunate utterances Gutu has no moral standing to talk anything about Gukurahundi and peace building. He is complicit because he openly told the whole world that he is a Zanu-PF member,” he said.
Sibanda also reprimanded NPRC for giving participants copies of Zimbabwe’s National Anthem, whose lyrics were misspelt in isiNdebele.
He told the commission and the Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan, Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Judith Ncube to ‘reproach or else fire the team that had done so.’