Zimbabwe: GALZ views on Zuma

September 29, 2006

HARARE — The Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) is shocked at the homophobic outburst made before thousands by ANC Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, at the recent Heritage Day celebrations. Such utterances may be run of the mill for the likes of national leaders, such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, but are startling when they emanate from a South African statesman.

South Africa must act as a role model for the promotion of human rights in Africa. Those of us living under difficult circumstances, as exist in Zimbabwe and elsewhere on this continent, have become increasingly alarmed by the wild behaviour and utterances of Zuma which continue to go unchecked.

Whilst same-sex marriage may be furthest from the minds of most lesbian and gay people in the rest of Africa who still suffer the basic humiliations of oppressive laws, social stigma and propaganda spewed out by our national and religious leaders, we had hoped that we could at least look to the South African government to provide us with a strong arm of support in our basic struggle for social recognition.

It seems we cannot rely on this, either on international platforms such as the UN (where South Africa sees fit to abstain from recognising sexual orientation as a ground for human rights protection), or at national level where leaders are given free reign to stigmatise marginalised communities such as gay and lesbian people.

The comments of Mr Zuma are unbecoming of a national statesman and GALZ requires, at the very least, that the ANC demand an apology from Mr Zuma and an assurance from him that, in future, he will desist from such politically populist and outrageous statements. – Issued by GALZ

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