FIVE senior Zanu PF Youth League members, including a central committee member in Bulawayo, have been caught up in a storm after they reportedly attended an end-of-year party for gays and lesbians at a city hotel.
The party took place on December 21 on the outskirts of Bulawayo with the Zanu PF members joining the festivities soon after attending a last-minute preparatory meeting for the unveiling of the statue of the late Vice-President and veteran nationalist Joshua Nkomo.
President Robert Mugabe, who often takes potshots at homosexuals labelling them as worse than dogs and pigs for engaging in unnatural acts, was in the city the day after the party to officiate at the statue unveiling, commissioning of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo international airport terminal building opening and the street renaming in honour of Nkomo on Unity Day.
Sources in Zanu PF told Southern Eye that scores of youth league members were pushing for the suspension of those who attended the gay party.The issue was discussed at a tension-filled meeting in the city on Saturday, the sources said.
“Some members of the youth league, including a top executive member and someone at national level (names supplied), attended a gay party on December 21 at a venue owned by a former provincial member,” said a source.
“They went straight to the gay party soon after a meeting to prepare for the unveiling of Nkomo’s statue and official opening of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport.
“In Zanu PF sithiphansilezitabane (down with homosexuals) and President Mugabe always says no to that (homosexuality),” said the source.
The sources said they would up the heat on the case in the coming days.
The provincial structure is said to be under pressure from its districts to act on the matter promptly.
“The districts are planning a demonstration against the youth executive if no action is taken.”
Zanu PF Bulawayo spokesperson Michael Sikhosana would not comment on the issue yesterday saying he had not been in the city.
“I have not been in Bulawayo for a while so ask the provincial chairperson,” said Sikhosana.
Police arrested five members of the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (Galz) during the party.
The five were donning T-shirts inscribed with the message “same love”. The T-shirts were also emblazoned with an image of the rainbow flag that is often used as a symbol of gay pride. Two of them reportedly suffered serious injuries during the arrest.
Last year, police arrested and detained 44 Galz members in Harare for unspecified charges. There were reports that several of them sustained serious injuries during the raids and they were detained without charge.
The government has been accused of targeting homes of gays and lesbians as well as singling out their families for harassment as it believes that homosexuals are a national embarrassment.