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
‘Spy machine’ to roll out this monthThe Malawi Regulatory Authority (Macra) has disclosed that the implementation of the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms), famed as a ‘spy machine’, would start by the end of this month. Read More
Malawi to advance technological innovationsMalawi’s government has launched a Global Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Instruments report, to support technological innovation. Read More
E-Waste management workshop on the cardsThe Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has lined up a series of workshops this year one of them being the upcoming half day consultative workshop on Electronic Waste (E-Waste) Management in the Communications Sector. Read More
NIMC moves to accelerate issue of e-ID cardsNigeria’s National Identity Management Commission has concluded its International Vendors’ Summit aimed at ensuring that citizens who have enrolled for their National Identification Number get their National e-ID Cards on time. Read More
NCS blames shoddy preparations for neglect of IT in electionThe Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) has blamed tardiness in project management, and challenges in logistics and security, for neglect of ICT by the government and the electoral umpires. Read More
Rwanda’s ICT private sector strengthens commercial ties with IsraelIn an attempt to fast track growth of the sector and the capacity of the players in the ICT sector, every year the Rwanda’s ICT Chamber chooses priority countries to visit to strengthen business ties and to study the global best practices in business, innovation, workforce development and to ... Read More
Senegal prepares national plan to protect children onlineSenegal is taking action to ensure that its children are protected online and do not become victims of harmful content, cybercrime, bullying and other criminal offences perpetrated by syndicates on the internet. Read More
Ivory Coast moves to close digital divideThe government of Ivory Coast has launched a project to help half a million families own IT equipment and connect to the internet in the next three years. Read More
Mabeo blames cable thieves for erratic ICT servicesBotswana’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo, has pointed to power failure, vandalism and theft of copper and fibre cables as the main contributors to disruptions in ICT services. Read More
FEATURED STORY2bn priced out of internet access
A new report from the Alliance for Affordable Internet shows that the price of broadband remains prohibitive for billions in developing and emerging countries, with women and rural dwellers hardest hit.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHKenya’s digital TV battle hots up
Kenya’s journey to Digital TV broadcasting took a new turn this week, when the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) accused three local media firms of intent to disrupt the process.
COMPANY NEWSVMware unveils vCloud for NFV with Integrated OpenStack to accelerate service innovation
VMware, the global leader in virtualisation and cloud infrastructure, today debuted VMware vCloud for NFV, an integrated Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) platform that will combine VMware’s production-proven ...