Zim gay debate goes viral
GOVERNMENT| Nov. 18, 2011, 12:34 p.m.
By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been a butt of jokes most of his political career, but his recent statements on gay rights have torched a social media storm.
A movement called ‘One Million Against Morgan Tsvangirai Gay Statements’ debuted on Facebook this week - most likely launched by opponents of his Movement for Democratic Party – with a symbol of a splinter MDC formation on the background of a Zanu-PF flag.
Speaking to BBC's Newsnight programme on a recent visit to the British capital, Tsvangirai said he would defend gay rights if he became president but noted that there was a "very strong cultural feeling" against homosexuality in Zimbabwe.
"It's a very controversial subject in my part of the world. My attitude is that I hope the constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody. To me, it's a human right," he said.
He later told a local political rally: “I am not gay, but I will not persecute someone who wishes to make his or her own choice about their sexual orientation, it is their own business.”
Zimbabwe is drafting a new constitution, which will be put to a referendum ahead of possible elections next year and Tsvangirai’s statements are seen as a call to enshrine gay rights in the final draft.
However, homosexual acts are illegal in Zimbabwe as in most African countries except South Africa, where many people view such as un-African.
Tsvangirai, who founded the MDC in 1999, is seen as the second most powerful politician in Zimbabwe and likely future president after his party took majority seats in the 2008 parliamentary vote.
However, his comments alarmed many in the conservative country and within a short time had gone viral on Facebook and Twitter social media forums, mainly because his coalition government partner President Mugabe - a practising Catholic - once described gays as "worse than pigs and dogs", sparking international outrage.
Rivals waded into the controversy and Zanu-PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo speculated in the State-owned Herald newspaper that the British were pressuring Tsvangirai to support gay rights in return for aid.
“There is a clear link between what Tsvangirai is now advocating and it is not surprising. They (MDC-T) are sponsored by the British and the West and they have to toe the line. Failure to do so would cost them British support,” he told the Herald.
The Herald maintains that gays and lesbians freely exist in Zimbabwe and are not persecuted, they are only prosecuted at law if they take their activities into the public domain since the constitution does not provide for same-sex unions and calls homosexuality ‘an abomination’.
It is widely believed that social media played an integral role in the election of United States President Barack Obama and its omnipresence fuelled the Arab Spring.
In Zimbabwe, it may determine the fate of one Morgan Tsvangirai.
MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS
Accra to become first ‘Centre of Excellence’ in Africa with Microsoft CityNext applicationsMicrosoft Ghana, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and the Global Alliance of Mayors and Leaders from Africa and African Descent signed an agreement to make the city of Accra in Ghana Africa’s first ‘Centre of Excellence’, through the use of Microsoft’s CityNext applications. Read More
Malawi Government levies tax on Internet/SMSThe Malawi Government has announced that it will levy a 10 percent excise duty on mobile phone text messaging as well as all data transfers, including internet and similar services. Read More
Ghana’s 800km fibre optic backbone commissionedGhana’s President John Dramani Mahama has commissioned an 800km Eastern Corridor Fibre Optic backbone which runs through 20 districts. Read More
NIMC infrastructure must be managed by credible people: NIMC chiefNIMC’s chief speaks to Kokumo Goodie about the role of the NIMC and his own legacy. Read More
Kenyan ICT on track for strong growthThe Kenyan government projects that the country’s ICT sector will approach 20% growth by 2017, with the government making every effort to help boost this growth. Read More
Ghana commissions enhanced CICsGhana’s Minister for Communications, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, has commissioned and handed over an Enhanced Community Information Centre (E-CIC) to La Nkwantanang-Madina Municipal Assembly in the Greater Accra Region under the e-governance project. Read More
Rwanda hosts Africa Broadband and Universal Service Funds ForumThe Africa Broadband and Universal Service Funds (USF) forum brought together broadband stakeholders from all over Africa in Kigali for a three-day forum this week. Read More
Airtel, Ghana Communications Ministry promote girls in ICTAirtel Ghana has partnered the Ministry of Communication to celebrate International Telecommunication Union Girls in ICT Day. Read More
Alcatel-Lucent, Algeria to build Orval undersea cable systemAlcatel-Lucent and the Algerian Ministry of Post, Information Technology and Communications have signed a turnkey agreement for the deployment of the Orval system, an over 560 km fiber-optic undersea cable that will link Oran in Algeria to Valencia, Spain. Read More
Finalists announced for African Utility Week Industry AwardsThe finalists have been announced for the African Utility Week Industry Awards, with the winners to be honoured at the annual African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa in Cape Town from 12-14 May. Read More
FEATURED STORYThe transformative power of affordable smartphones and unlimited data in Ghana
Smartphones are helping transform their lives of ordinary people in Ghana, Reports Nana Appiah Acquaye.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHNIMC infrastructure must be managed by credible people: NIMC chief
NIMC’s chief speaks to Kokumo Goodie about the role of the NIMC and his own legacy.