President Jacob Zuma
Commemorating the 103rd anniversary of the ANC, President Jacob Zuma has condemned hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgender South Africans.
Zuma made the comments during his speech at Saturday’s ANC mass celebration in Cape Town, in which he delivered a statement from the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC.
Addressing the issue of crime, the president admitted that it remains a major social and economic challenge, before specifically mentioning attacks against LGBTI citizens, which have plagued post-apartheid South Africa.
“The ANC also condemns the violent crimes against women, children, the elderly and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex communities,” he told the 40,000 strong Cape Town Stadium crowd.
“These attacks are despicable and they must be stopped,” Zuma said.
He also urged ANC members “to participate in the campaigns against violence and also to report, to law enforcement agencies, any knowledge regarding these attacks.”
Zuma added that, “ANC branches must also be active in community education on laws, rights and duties of South African citizens.”
These statements are a far cry from the president’s notorious 2006 speech in which he said: “When I was growing up an ungqingili [a gay] would not have stood in front of me. I would knock him out.”
He, however, later apologised “unreservedly” for the comment.
Zuma has more recently been criticised by LGBTI activists for refusing to condemn anti-gay legislation enacted in other African countries, such as Uganda and Nigeria, and for appointing the homophobic former journalist Jon Qwelane as South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda.
In April last year, the ANC government launched Africa’s first state-led campaign in support of LGBTI equality in an effort to combat discrimination and violence against the LGBTI community.