ZANU PF’s comical Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba, who was recently crowned ZimRights Human Rights Defender of the Year, has turned down a paid-up Christmas retreat at the Victoria Falls, saying he would rather spend the festive season with members of his impoverished constituency.
Chinotimba pipped other known human rights defenders that include Jestina Mukoko, Rebecca Chisamba, Harare West MP Jessie Majome and Beatrice Mtetwa for the top award at a ceremony held in Bulawayo last week. However, his victory was widely condemned by civic society groups who described the award as a mockery to the campaign for human rights.
The human rights body said the award was “linked to the raising of pertinent developmental issues in the nation using platforms that one has access to”.
A statement from the body said: “The nominees were selected by the people in all ZimRights’ eleven provinces and when votes were tallied, Hon Chinotimba emerged as the winner.”
As if responding to the public outrage, the outspoken legislator 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.
He was supposed to go on a paid-up holiday at Victoria Falls with his wife.
Chinotimba told guests that most schoolchildren in his constituency were holding lessons in the open after about 12 schools were destroyed by a hailstorm.
“The sponsor of this award (Holiday Inn) promised to buy building material for the classrooms destroyed by the rains. They even promised to do more for my constituency. So far World Vision is the only organisation helping in the area,” Chinotimba said.
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.