Kabelo Gwamanda says his election as Johannesburg Mayor is “God’s will”
The election of a mayor from a queerphobic party in Johannesburg by the ANC, EFF, and PA coalition again shows that their supposed allyship to the LGBTIQ+ community is nothing more than political posturing.
On Friday, the coalition voted in Kabelo Gwamanda, a councillor from the Al Jama-ah party into power. His election – which he described as “God’s will” – was a compromise between the coalition partners for them to share the majority of the mayoral committee positions.
Not only does Al Jama-ah have almost no support from the city’s voters (Gwamanda is only one of three elected Al Jama-ah councillors), but it is also a religious party that is openly homophobic. Despite this, their representative is now the head of the Johannesburg Metro, the country’s biggest city with more than 10 million residents.
The city has been wracked by political instability, with mayors voted in and out by councillors on an almost comical basis. Gwamanda replaces the previous Al Jama-ah mayor, Thapelo Amad, who the coalition also put into power in February. He only lasted three months.
Al Jama-ah is openly queerphobic and espouses the adoption of “Shari’ah [Islamic religious law] values” in South Africa. It is opposed to homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and gender diversity.
In 2020, the party’s founder and leader, Ganief Hendricks, told Daily Maverick that when it comes to homosexuality, “We’re against it, because the Quran opposes it.” In November last year, the party lashed out at draft proposals to make schools safer and more inclusive for LGBTIQ+ learners.
Hendricks asserted in a statement that: “This is a direct assault on the constitutional rights of learners coming from homes with religious, faith and cultural objections to LGBTQ. God-fearing citizens must stand up against these atrocities as in our silence we would be leaving a disgraceful legacy for future generations.”
He called for religious communities “to be protected against any measures to force down an LGBQT agenda on them,” and urged the government “to stop wasting resources meant for education on matters such as LGBQT agendas which are not welcome to a largely faith-based South African society.”
Hendricks added: “We say NO to attempts to normalize LGBTQ in this country.”
The party has also stated that “we determinedly disagree with their forms [of] sexual orientation and their queer belief system… Their lifestyle is condemned and unacceptable with the practices of Islam and Muslims.”
The ANC, EFF, and PA have previously sought to woo LGBTIQ+ voters by selectively expressing their allyship, but it’s clear that when push comes to shove, political expedience will win the day.