President Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwean politicians are again using gay hysteria to attack their rivals as the race to succeed an ageing Robert Mugabe hots up.
According to News 24 Zimbabwe, expelled Zanu PF politician Temba Mliswa claimed last week that the country’s government is being run by gay officials, despite Mugabe being notoriously homophobic.
“We have so many gays in the government and in the corridors of power. They are in control of everything such that they may as well declare this country a gay republic,” he said in a bizarre press briefing.
He went on to suggest, possibly sarcastically, that this might be a good thing. “I can assure you that this country will benefit from millions that the homosexuals worldwide control. They are rich and have lots of money which you see being used to build mansions in the wealthy suburbs of Harare,” he stated.
In October last year, Mliswa slammed cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere, saying that, “We will not allow the party to be run by gay gangsters. They are constantly loaded with money because the CIA funds them.”
Also last week, Zimbabwean politician, activist and Zanu PF supporter Goodson Nguni called on the ruling part to investigate Moyo’s editorial appointments at two government-owned newspapers.
According to New Zimbabwe, Nguni warned that Moyo had appointed gay editors to oversee the titles.
It appears that claiming that political opponents are gay is becoming a common strategy in Zimbabwe, much to the alarm of the country’s LGBTI community.
Chester Samba, Director of LGBTI rights group Galz, told Mambaonline: “Increasingly, politicians are using social issues that play on prejudices and fears, such as gays in government, in the succession battle.
“These leaders are trying to show us that labelling someone gay in a very homophobic society is enough to silence critics and continue the rage.”
He added: “We remain very concerned that such statements can only serve to further political intolerance of the LGBTI community thereby exposing it to more violence and aversion.”
President Mugabe has previously stated that gay people are “worse than pigs and dogs” and that they “don’t have any human rights at all.”
Gay sex and public affection are illegal in Zimbabwe, with penalties of up to three years in jail. Same-sex marriage is also illegal, as entrenched in the country’s Constitution.