Homos in high places. The Disease is catching?


“The constitution is never cast in stone. These loopholes must be picked up and there should be political will . . . In South Africa, they have failed to deal with the issue of homosexuality because there are homos in high places. The same can be said of the United States and other countries. We need to be vigilant on these kinds of loopholes. This is a big step and let’s subject it to further discussion,” he said.[1]

For those of us used to homophobic statements, it might come as a surprise that this statement came from the Prime Minister and not from someone in ZANU PF. In three or four sentences, the Prime Minister not only indulges in a bit of hate speech – homos? – insults our South African neighbours and the United States, and then, to top it all, tells us that this much vaunted constitution has “loopholes” that will need correction in the future.

These kinds of reckless statements by senior politicians should never be allowed to pass unremarked or commented upon. So, let’s look at what the Honourable Prime Minister is saying, both explicitly and implicitly.

Take so-called “gay rights”. The Honourable Prime Minister seems to be oblivious of the contents of the Declaration of Rights in the constitution that he asked all to support. He might like to take time out his busy schedule to read RAU’s analysis of the Declaration of Rights[2], and he will be very surprised to see that he and his party (and the other parties) have committed themselves publicly to positions that will rather assist than impede “gay rights”. He can’t blame anyone else as the final draft was bashed out by the Principals in the end. He does come across as a teensy bit hypocritical, or perhaps he just does not read documents very carefully.

Building on this, the Honourable Prime Minister takes a swipe at South Africa, the USA, presumably all other Western countries that recognize “gay rights”, suggesting that the only reason that this has happened is because they have “homos” in high places. Really? This is getting to the far reaches of conspiracy theory: “gays” have such enormous power – like Jews or capitalists, or is it both of these – that they can force “unwilling” populations to accept the rights of LGBT people in their midst? Apart from the crudity of expression, which is unbecoming a national leader, the insult to other sovereign nations does not suggest a good grasp of the politics of diplomacy. We can be fairly sure that South Africa, a country that is very proud of its constitution and the manner in which it has created a functioning democracy, will find this a very crass and stupid remark.

But let’s get to the core of the real problem. The constitution has many loopholes? And the way forward is to close those by Parliamentary action, and presumably we can then have a new constitution that requires 19 or 20 amendments? You cannot be serious, Honourable Prime
Minister.

But of course you are. Senior members of both MDC parties have continuously told their civil society critics to just go with the current process because, once they are in power, they will amend it or get a new one. So, the draft (and soon to be the substantive) constitution is now a serious contribution to creating democracy, it is merely a device to get SADC off our backs so that we can get down to the more serious business of elections. And when MDC does not win an election – and this can happen – will ZANU PF amend the constitution? Not likely because this constitution strengthens rather than weakens Presidential powers[3]. But, of course, the Honorable Prime Minister does know this, and this is why he is able to say to his critics that it is not sensible to have an executive without strong powers, as he did recently[4]. So, Honourable Prime Minister, Zimbabweans don’t want a stronger presidency – as you might recall from your days with the NCA – and they want accountable leadership, both for what leadership does and what it says.

As for the disease? Perhaps it is not homophobia, but a more simple case of foot-in-mouth disease?


[1] Churches express displeasure over draft constitution, Moses Matenga, Newsday, March 18, 2013.

[2] Matyszak, D A (2013), THE DECLARATION OF RIGHTS AND ZIMBABWE’S DRAFT CONSTITUTION. March 2013. HARARE: RESEARCH & ADVOCACY UNIT.

[3] Matyszak, D A (2013), Presidential Powers and the Draft Constitution, March 2013. HARARE: RESEARHC A& ADVOCACY UNIT.

[4] Tsvangirai defends retention of executive powers. Daily News. Thursday, 14 March 2013. http://www.dailynews.co.zw

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