Gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, along with ten Zimbabwean human rights activists disrupted a lecture by South African Foreign Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, in London on Wednesday.
Her talk at the London School of Economics was repeatedly interrupted with accusations of: “ANC betrays black Zimbabwe.”
The protesters were from the Free Zim Youth (FZY) movement, which is committed to “anti-apartheid-style direct action protests against Mugabe’s tyranny and against the ANC’s refusal to support the struggle for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe.”
About 10 minutes into her lecture on the future of the United Nations, Dr Zuma spoke of the importance of international solidarity. She praised the late ANC leader Oliver Tambo, stating that he was an “ardent internationalist” and a person who believed in “true solidarity.”
This was too much for young black Zimbabweans in the audience. “We were sickened to hear Dr Zuma talk about international solidarity when her government is refusing to show solidarity with the persecuted people of Zimbabwe,” said Alois Mbawara, aged 25, who was one of the FZY protesters.
Mr Mbawara stood up in the balcony and shouted at Dr Zuma: “Why are you doing nothing to help Zimbabwe? The ANC called for solidarity against apartheid. But the ANC government is showing no solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
When asked by the chair of the meeting to keep quite, Mr Mbawara replied: “We can’t keep quite while Zimbabwe is suffering.”
When stewards dragged Mr Mbawara out of the auditorium, the veteran gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, walked onto the stage and unfurled a placard behind Dr Zuma. It read: “Mbeki’s shame. ANC betrays black Zimbabwe.”
As security officials tried to wrestle Tatchell off the stage, he accused Dr Zuma and the ANC government of “betraying Oliver Tambo’s commitment to international solidarity with oppressed people.”
“The ANC sits on its hands and looks the other way while Zimbabwe burns,” he told Dr Zuma.
“Mugabe has murdered more black Africans than the apartheid regime. In Matabeleland in the 1980s alone, he massacred 20,000 civilians. That is the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for nine months. Yet South Africa does noting effective to stop the killing. President Mbeki’s quite diplomacy is a failure. Mugabe’s abuses have increased, not diminished,” said Tatchell.
The police were called and Tatchell was dragged from the auditorium. Soon after he was removed, another ZFY activist, Wellington Chibanguza, erupted from the balcony: “Why do you (Dr Zuma) and your government persist with quite diplomacy when it has failed to deliver?,” he asked. Chibanguza was also ejected.
According to Chibanguza, “Dr Zuma said Zimbabweans in Britain had no right to speak out about the situation Zimbabwe. This is a bit much coming Dr Zuma, who spent much of the apartheid era in exile in the UK. That comment really incensed the audience.”
The organisers curtailed the promised question and answer session after Zuma finished her lecture. While the ejected ZFY activists continued their protest outside the LSE, Dr Zuma was taken out of a side exit to a waiting car.