Zim gay debate goes viral

GOVERNMENT

|
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Zim gay debate goes viral

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.



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS

Ghana moots lifting of smartphone import tax

The Government of Ghana is set to consider the lifting of import tax duties on smart phones.  Read More

Broadband ‘boosts growth’

Every economy today requires broadband for growth and prosperity, says Joseph Tiampati, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology. Read More

CAK: all systems go for Universal Service Fund

Kenya's long-awaited Universal Service Fund has finally become a reality and it aims to bridge the digital divide. Read More

Khama spells out ICT roadmap in SONA

In his first National Assembly address after his reelection, Botswana President Ian Khama told the nation that the implementation of the National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation policy (RSTI) has started. Read More

Ghana to launch first phase of National Fibre Network soon

The Government of Ghana is expected to officially commission the completion of work on the fibre optic network connecting the eastern corridor linking Ho in the Volta region and Bawku in the Northern Region of the country by the end of December this year. Read More

Botswana streets to come under surveillance

Selected streets in both big and small cities as well as villages will be under the permanent glare of video surveillance according to recent reports.  Read More

NIPOST facilities to deepen digital transactions

Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications Technology has said the infrastructure of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) would be deployed to boost digital transactions in the country, especially mobile money services. Read More

US$240 million to create Congo-Brazzaville’s digital economy

Congo-Brazzaville needs 119 billion FCFA (about US$240 million) to create a powerful and competent digital economy. Read More

African, Norwegian leaders discuss accelerated infrastructure development

More than 400 African and Norwegian leaders, including 30 ambassadors from Norway and Africa, discussed how to accelerate African infrastructure through Norwegian-African work, trade and growth at the Norwegian-African Business Summit in Oslo. Read More

Techno Brain introduces SMS Passport Service

Techno Brain has designed, developed and installed a Bulk SMS System for PIS Passport status query for  the Malawi Government’s Immigration Department.  Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoice

FEATURED STORY

GSMA: half a billion mobile subscribers in SSA by 2020GSMA: half a billion mobile subscribers in SSA by 2020

The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will pass the half billion mark in 2020, says a new GSMA report.

IN DEPTH

Africa lags on digital migration Africa lags on digital migration

Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.  

COMPANY NEWS

VMware Study: Businesses can Take Three Weeks to get Employees Mobile-Ready

EMEA businesses say concerns over trust, ownership and delivery capability may hold back taking advantage of the mobile cloud-era.