Zimbabwe human rights award to Zanu politician under fire

December 22, 2014

As a relative specialist on human rights awards [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/my-post-number-1000-human-rights-awards-finally-made-accessible-for-and-by-true-heroes/], I would be amiss not to relate the following ‘problem’ with a human rights award in Zimbabwe. The local NGO ZimRights gave a number of human rights awards and ended up having to defend the People’s Choice Award, which had been attributed to a  ZANU-PF MP Joseph Chinotimba. A number of human rights defenders activists protested as they said it as was wrong to honour a war veteran who is known to have led violent farm invasions which claimed lives and displaced thousands of people.

Buhera-South MP Joseph Chinotimba

ZimRights has responded by saying that the People’s Choice Award is not [really] a Human Rights Defender Award but is an award “linked to the raising of pertinent developmental issues in the nation using platforms that one has access to”. It also explained that the nominees were selected by the people in all ZimRights’ eleven provinces and when votes were tallied Hon Chinotimba emerged as the winner. ZimRights said they take this result as a challenge and lesson on future education and human rights voting. The 3rd Edition of the Community Human Rights Defenders Award was held in Bulawayo last week on Thursday and the controversy may have obscured that the Overall Human Rights Defender of the Year was awarded to Rebecca Chisamba, a television talk show host. The New Zimbabwe report on 21 December added that “It is not clear what has endeared Chinotimba to the people but a few months ago the comical legislator arrived in Victoria Falls where he bought 200 cases of beer for the revellers at a local beer garden. Chinos, as the Buhera South MP is affectionately known, also pledged to pay school fees for over 20 school children at Chinotimba School which he claims is named after his ancestor.”

ZimRights defends Chinotimba’s award.

Another paper, Newsday, on 22 December, reported that the MP in question, perhaps in response to the criticism,  “stunned the more than 200 invited guests that included donor agencies, MPs, civil society leaders, community human rights defenders and commissioners of a variety commissions when he turned down the holiday offer and requested that the money be channelled towards improving infrastructure in his constituency” [The prize was a paid holiday at Victoria Falls with his wife.]

[Chinotimba came into the political limelight in 2000 when he together with the late war veterans’ leader Chenjerai Hunzvi led violent farm invasions and later stormed then High Court judge Justice James Devitte’s chambers in protest against his court rulings on land issues. Since his election into Parliament last year, Chinotimba has generated a lot of controversy through his fearless debates.]

https://www.newsday.co.zw/2014/12/22/will-spend-prize-poor-not-holiday-chinotimba/

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