Newly appointed commissioner in the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Advocate Obert Gutu has denied ever joining ZANU PF. Responding to an application for a declarator that he has ceased to be a commissioner of the NPRC on the thirtieth day as he had not resign from his political party ZANU PF, Gutu stated that what he announced were his intentions to join ZANU PF but he had never completed the process by the time he was appointed to the Commission. Gutu was opposing an application filed by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS), a National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) member pursuant to section 236 of the Constitution which requires a member of an independent commission who is a member of a political organisation on his appointment to relinquish that membership within 30 days of the appointment or they immediately cease to be a commissioner.
Dzikamai Bere the Executive Director of ZIMRIGHTS who deposed to the founding affidavit had submitted that 0n 17 March 2021, Gutu joined ZANU PF amid pomp and fanfare at State House where he was welcomed in the political party by President Mnangagwa who is also the 1st Secretary of ZANU Pf. The event was carried out in the mainstream media. Bere also alluded to an article published in the Sunday Mail on 21 March 2021 titled “Why I decided to join ZANU PF”.
But in a shock response, while admitting the reports and the article explaining his decision to join ZANU PF, Gutu submitted that he was yet to submit a formal application and had not paid the required joining fee. He said he had abandoned the idea of joining ZANU PF when he was appointed to the NPRC.
ZIMRIGHTS, represented by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is yet to file a response.