ZANU-PF unleashes more hate speech

Minister launches anti-homosexual campaign

Richard Lee's picture

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Strategic communications for WWF

May 15th, 2012

ZANU-PF has upped its anti-homosexual rhetoric yet again - desperately trying to rally support by attacking gays and lesbians because the party clearly has no postiive political platform to promote in the run-up to elections, which are likely in the coming year.

The latest high-level ZANU-PF tirade against Zimbabwe's homosexual community was launched by Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, who reportedly urged chiefs to banish "people who support homosexuality" from their communities and take away their land. According to the article in the state-run Chronicle, Chombo made the remarks when he addressed hundreds of villagers during the installation of a new chief.

This posionous attack was swfitly condemned in the strongest possible terms by Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights (ZLHR), which issued a statement saying, "We are concerned that such utterances will give rise to an increase in incidents of harassment, persecution, as well as unlawful arbitrary evictions and seizure of property, which are a violation of our national laws, as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory."

Chombo is obviously hoping that stirring up hatred and pointing the finger (or in his case probably the fist) at homosexuals will win ZANU-PF some much needed support. But as ZLHR says "his shocking political grandstanding serves only to highlight the blatant disrespect for the rule of law and to underline the lack of sincerity by a minister from a political party which pretends to support economic and social justice - particularly land rights - for the majority poor of Zimbabwe."

By inciting villagers and chiefs to target "people who support homosexuality", and linking the debate to the purported support of homosexuality and same-sex marriages by other political parties in Zimbabwe, it is obvious that Chombo is seeking to initiate a witch-hunt within peace-loving communities and later to use this as a pretext to clamp down on political opponents as the country moves towards a fresh election.

And the statement concludes with a clear call to politicians to stop resorting to hate speech. "The minister and others who have been and continue to speak on public platforms in a similar vein should refrain from such irresponsible utterances," said ZLHR. "These statements impact arbitrarily on peoples' constitutionally protected rights to property, protection of the law, and protection from arbitrary or forced evictions and internal displacement."

But ZANU-PF has ignored countless calls like this over the years. They obviously feel that hate speech is the best way to win over voters - or scare away voters. And they clearly think that Prime Minister Tsvangirai's welcome u-turn on gay rights has given them a chance. But it would be a major surprise if any Zimbabweans voted on the basis of their feelings towards homosexuals - however strong - given the massive political and socio-economic issues facing them.

 

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