Scholarships reignite LGBTQ conflict in Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe's vice president Constantine Chiwenga

from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Bureau
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE divisive issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights has returned to haunt Zimbabwe, a country with documented hostility towards same-sex liaisons.

Some foreign higher learning institutions offering prospective learners from Zimbabwe scholarships if they are LGBTQ has triggered a fallout with the government.

This has also widened differences between the government and its critics, who argue the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has its priorities misplaced. They believe instead, the government must prioritise the fight against rampant corruption and resuscitating an economy that has been on a freefall for over two decades.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the government denounced as “unlawful, unChristian, anti-Zimbabwean and unAfrican insidious attempts by foreign interests to entice, lure and recruit Zimbabwe’s less privileged but able students into lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activities and malpractices through offers of educational scholarships.”

He said the government viewed such scholarship offers as a direct challenge to its authority.

“Thus, the government will not hesitate to take appropriate measures to enforce national laws and to protect and defend national values,” Chiwenga added.

“Our schools and institutions of higher learning will not entertain applicants, let alone enrol persons associated in such alien, anti-life, unAfrican and unChristian values which are being promoted and cultivated by, as well as practised in decadent societies with whom we share no moral or cultural affinities.”

Chiwenga sent a warning to the prospective recipients of the scholarships.

“They should never be tempted to trade or sell their souls for such abominable and devilish offers,” he said.

Makomborero Haruzivishe, the pro-democracy activist, criticised Chiwenga, saying the vice president’s sentiments came at a time when thousands of villagers were being dispossessed of land they had lived all their lives on, increasing inflation and cost of living due to corruption and gross mis-governance.

“All Vice President Chiwenga cares about are gays yet millions of us citizens are after thieves looting Zimbabwe into precipice,” the activist said.

He argued individuals’ sexual preferences were neither illegal under the Zimbabwean law nor were they the cause of the suffering.

“The real culprits are criminals who are harboured in ZANU-PF,” Haruzivishe said.

ZANU-PF is an acronym of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, which has governed Southern African since independence from Britain in 1980.

The government has previously accused the former coloniser and its Western allies of seeking to impose same sex liaisons in Zimbabwe.

Thandekile Moyo, a human rights activist also reacted to Chiwenga’s utterances.

“First of all, you cannot police sexuality, no matter how hard you try,” she said.

“There’s no law against homosexuality in Zimbabwe. These threats are backed by bigotry and not law.”

Moyo argued the Zimbabwe constitution protects the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Part of the constitution reads, “Every person has the right to fair treatment and not to be discriminated on the grounds of their nationality, race, colour, tribe, place of birth, ethnic or social origin, language, class, political affiliation, opinion, custom, culture, sex, gender, marital status, age, pregnancy, disability, economic or social status, or whether his or her parents were married or not married when he or she was born.”

Homophobia peaked under the administration of then president, Robert Mugabe (deceased), who at one time described gays as “worse than pigs and dogs.”

It triggered protests from the United States Congress.

– CAJ News

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