Epafras Mukwiilongo, NEFF founder and “commander in chief” (Pic: The Namibian)
A new Namibian political party launched this week is inspired by Julius Malema’s EFF, with one significant difference: It’s openly homophobic and already spouting anti-gay rhetoric.
According to the Mail and Guardian, the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) is a “populist movement sporting red berets, using military ranks and demanding nationalisation of all the land in that country.”
While South Africa’s EFF has similar views on nationalisation, it has taken a progressive stance on LGBT rights, issuing statements condemning recent anti-gay legislation in Africa.
In April, a Sunday Times survey found that, compared to all other South African political parties, the EFF had the highest rate of members in favour of same-sex marriage.
The NEFF, however, is strongly opposed to homosexuality. The Namibian reports that its founders were promised millions of dollars by an un-named anti-homosexual organisation to start the party.
“Homosexuality in our country and culture is a tambo (sic) and it’s foreign,” businessman Epafras Mukwiilongo, NEFF founder and “commander in chief” told the newspaper. “Namibia is a country which respects culture. Our freedom was not to liberate homosexuality but to celebrate and enjoy people in our country.”
Mukwiilongo also trotted out the tired cliché that homosexuality is a Western threat to Africa. “Today, the imperialists are manipulating / influencing our nation through homosexual practices. The NEFF is committed to uniting all Namibians to root out this evil practice. Namibia will never be ruled by homosexuals,” he said.
It’s unclear how much traction the party has at this point. It is not yet registered with the Electoral Commission of Namibia but says that it aims to contest the presidential and national elections in November.
The Namibian further reports that the party has been in discussions with the EFF and Malema himself, but EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi denied having any links to the NEFF.
“We are watching it closely but I can tell you that it is not our project. People in Namibia are independent, therefore you should talk to those comrades in Namibia,” he told New Era.
Gay rights in Namibia are a contentious issue. Consensual “sodomy” is illegal and could be used to prosecute gay men, although this is not believed to have happened since the country’s independence in 1990.