A group of American activists have accused President Jacob Zuma of betraying the South African Constitution and Nelson Mandela’s legacy by refusing to condemn Uganda’s draconian anti-gay law.
South African born, US-based lawyer and activist Melanie Nathan reported on her O-blog-dee-o-blog-da blog that protesters on Thursday held up placards and rainbow flags next to a statue of Nelson Mandela outside the South African Embassy in Washington DC.
One of the signs read: “President Zuma assaults the South African Constitution. The ANC of Mandela dies as Zuma ‘respects’ Uganda’s ‘jail the gays for life’ legislation.”
Another placard quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.”
Nathan wrote that, “The demonstrators made it clear that Zuma has failed the LGBTI community of South Africa and all those abroad who once held its human rights significance in the highest of esteem.”
She added that, “Zuma is now seen as condoning the new homophobic laws of Uganda, and while doing so is assaulting the principles of South Africa’s rebirth.”
One demonstrator, Ellen Sturtz, told Nathan: “Voices from the African continent are so much more powerful than anything coming from the West. Zuma and others need to stand up for what’s right.”
The protest – an embarrassment for South Africa – was sparked by Zuma’s recent statement to Parliament about Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, in which he said that “South Africa respects the sovereign rights of other countries to adopt their own legislation.”
The comment has been viewed as tantamount to his support for the legislation, which has been widely condemned by human rights groups and a number of nations and world bodies, including the UN Human Rights Office and the World Bank.