By Lloyd Takawira
Former MDC official and National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) spokesperson has torched a storm after downplaying the Gukurahundi massacres.
Addressing a press conference in Harare flanked by two other members of the NPRC, Gutu invited a lot of backlash after saying the massacres that happened in the Matebeland region from the period 1982 to 1988 was ‘just a small tiny fraction’.
According to the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) more than 200 000 people were murdered during Gukurahundi.
“It’s a pity that normally people look at the commission as only dealing with one issue of Gukurahundi. I think Gukurahundi is just a small, tiny fraction of the 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,” Gutu said.
His remarks did not go down well with many Zimbabweans. Exiled former cabinet minister, Jonathan Moyo demanded that Gutu be forced to step down as a member of the NPRC for his reckless statements.
Moyo tweeted, that it was “criminal” of Gutu “to say Gukurahundi is ‘a very small, tiny fraction of the various other disputed we are talking about.
“Gukurahundi is not a dispute, it is a genocide whose perpetrators have not been held to account through the law for the justice of victims and survivors.”
Human rights activist Tatenda Mombeyarara also slammed Gutu whom he said was too conflicted to be a part of the NPRC.
“He is on record saying there was no crisis in the country when we fell victim to abductions and torture. Such callousness,” he said.
United Kingdom based lawyer and academic, Alex Magaisa fumed, “What a horrible thing to say! Even Zanu PF diehards know not to utter such nonsense. They have willing tools in the form of political turncoats who are trying too hard to pay their dues for seats on the gravy train. It is these mafikizolo [johnny-come-lately] that tend to be the most incorrigible.”
Obert Gutu, who defected from the opposition joining the ZANU PF party quickly got rewarded with a post in the reconciliation commission.
Gutu has been caught in a cobweb of controversies among them his assertion that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe.
The Gukurahundi massacres has remained a very emotional issue with victims and activists demanding justice from the ZANU PF led government for the atrocities.
Speaking to this reporter, historian Tjenesani Ntungakwa said that it was unfortunate that, the government has chosen to put conflicted people such as Obert Gutu to preside over such a delicate matter.
“There can never be rest until the governmment decides to sincerely deal with the gukurahundi atrocities”