A Zimbabwe politician says President Robert Mugabe is a hypocrite for condemning homosexuality when he is “surrounded” by gay people in his government.
At a press conference on Monday, former Zanu PF MP, Temba Mliswa, said: “I am not against homosexuality, but our own President must not lie to the world and castigate those who have chosen to be homosexuals.
“Who does not know that the late Vice president Canaan Banana was gay and there is evidence most Zanu PF cadres are homosexuals,” he was quoted as saying by New Zimbabwe.
Mliswa also slammed Mugabe’s wife Grace for holding herself up as a bastion of morality against her political opponents. “Who worked in the President’s office and ended up being the First Lady when the President was married to the late Sally Mugabe?” he said.
Mliswa, who was expelled from the ruling party for allegedly plotting against the First Lady, has made similar claims over the last two years, previously asserting that Zimbabwe is run by “gay gangsters” and should be called a “gay republic”.
Claiming that political opponents are gay is becoming a common strategy in Zimbabwe as politicians slug it out to succeed the ageing Mugabe, much to the alarm of the country’s LGBT community.
Last year, 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.”
He added: “We remain very concerned that such statements can only serve to further political intolerance of the LGBT 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.”
Most recently, he lashed out LGBT people at the UN General Assembly. He ranted that LGBT rights are “contrary to our values, norms, traditions, and beliefs,” defiantly telling world leaders, “We are not gays!”
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.