No dilemma over gay rights in Zimbabwe

Emmerson Mnangagwa has been striding the international stage for the first time as Zimbabwe’s President, rubbing shoulders with regional and continental global movers and shakers, sending the clear message that his rise to power — controversial as it was — is now a fait accompli, an accomplished fact, a done deal past debate, an accepted reality.

By CONWAY TUTANI

It must be said that Mnangagwa has so far acquitted himself well. He has stumbled now and then — like when he nearly lost his temper during a BBC interview and in totally absolving his predecessor Robert Mugabe in an interview with Russian news agency Sputnik. But on a scale of one to 10, I would give him seven. This has got nothing to do with my political views (which, by the way, I am entitled to), but is an extrapolation drawn from the mainly positive responses among Zimbabweans in general. You are often misunderstood if you separate your views from your analysis, but should we be bothered about that?

And this was particularly so this week when Mnangagwa came into his own when he was grilled on CNN over his stance on homosexuality. It should be pointed out that the interviewer, Richard Quest, is himself gay, thus, making him very much an interested party — like being interviewed about your views on, for example, Manchester United by a journalist wearing a Manchester United jersey!

This was exactly the scenario that unfolded as Quest, an otherwise brilliant journalist, reduced himself to taking it out personally on Mnangagwa. This was plain to see for everyone. International award-winning Zimbabwean journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono wrote as the interview proceeded: “One of my journalism lecturers, the great Reuters foreign correspondent, Colin Bickler, warned me against the dangers of mixing one’s personal views and emotions against reality. Richard Quest is gay so he is understandably pushing a personal issue in this interview with ED (Mnangangwa) and clearly getting agitated with the answers he is getting. ED is quite aware that he is on firmer ground back home both constitutionally and in terms of public opinion.”

Mnangagwa quite rightly stood his ground that under Zimbabwe’s Constitution, homosexuality is banned and, therefore, talking about gay rights does not come into question. He further said unless and until the Constitution was changed, that would remain the position. It stands to reason that it is the voters, who have to decide on such an issue as happened in Australia, Ireland and elsewhere. You accuse African leaders of being dictators, but in the same breath demand they unilaterally implement gay rights against the wishes of the majority, isn’t that a contradiction? It’s not being anti-gay, but that we ought to give each other space instead of baiting and daring others to accept you.

If you focus on what was said — and not on who said it — you will see that Mnangagwa made a better and more compelling case/argument than Quest. Quest really lost it by becoming angry and emotional when, as the interviewer, he was supposed to be in control and rattle Mnangagwa, as the interviewee. It was indeed a poor show from the normally lively but unflappable Quest. As an interested party, he should have recused himself.

Continued Chin’ono: “Many in the West forget that they recently discovered these rights. When Tony Blair won his first election in 1997, Britain’s most read newspaper ran a campaign disparaging what it called Blair’s ‘Gay Gangsters Government’. Australia only gave gay marriage rights this month, so to argue about gay issues in Zimbabwe without a historical context is extremely slippery and, at the worst, dishonest. ”

True, true. Remember former United States President Bill Clinton’s “Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask” gay ban in the military only recently lifted, but about to be reinstated by current US President Donald Trump? Then Senator Barack Obama, during his first campaign for the US Presidency, was evasive when he said his stance on same-sex marriage was “still evolving”.

The point is that gays should take into account the social environment and conduct their lifestyles quietly and no one will go out of their way to bother them. We are in different situations and different realities. It cannot be a one-size-fits-all. There is a lot of moving parts.
The debate should be whether we want to live in a country where the Constitution is supreme and everyone is equal before the law; or if we want to live in a country where some people have greater access to and protection for rights because they belong to a certain class. For argument’s sake, one could say it was wrong in the past when homosexuality was outlawed, but one could equally say it is wrong that acceptance of homosexuality is now being forced on everyone. While the minority should be protected from the majority, the majority should also be protected from the minority.

A fair balance is the one that affords everyone maximum liberty. Wrote a blogger: “You are free to be a homosexual, I am free to believe that is a poor lifestyle decision. You don’t need my blessing, I don’t need to give it.”


While we are more comfortable with the world we know, there are other different worlds out there. And those forceful gays like Quest or any other activists for that matter, ought to observe the rule that their freedom ends where other people’s freedom begins and, of course, vice versa.

Wrote Chin’ono: “It would be weird for a Zimbabwean President, who has just inherited one of the worst economies in the world, to even contemplate prioritising gay rights over economic rights or giving them the same priority . . . Even when I last interviewed (main opposition MDC-T leader) Morgan Tsvangirai, he pointedly said that it was not a priority.”

Indeed, there is no dilemma over gay rights in Zimbabwe. Let’s get on with the job at hand.

lConway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: nkumbuzo@gmail.com

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43 Comments

  1. I could not agree more…superb article! Spot on. A right is not denied and thereby can not be forced upon others.

  2. Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people

    1. Your (loose) quote from a piece of Western-imported historical media is ironic, given some of the anti-Western feeling promoted by the ruling regime. Secondly: while you have a right to your beliefs, so do others to theirs. If I find your approach lacking, I am perfectly entitled to do so, without fear or favour.

  3. well put article good job

  4. Sharp shooter as always.

  5. I am surprised that Richard Quest, with his macho approach to journalism, is gay. What a strange world indeed!

    1. stupid person….. explain the supposed corelation to the matters you are discussing in a public space>>>>>> who do you think you are.. is the proffession excellent for the heterosexuals??? on an exclusive basis?/ huh?/ u should behave yourself honestly. you are not forced to comment.. keep your DAYARIYA to your self

  6. KUFEMERANA KUGOTSI KWETE

    1. kkkkkkk wandifungisa vakuru vaya

  7. I don’t agree with some statements above – ie. “but one could equally say it is wrong that acceptance of homosexuality is now being forced on everyone” Homosexuality should be decriminalised – that is all. Nobody is forcing anything on anyone. I am sure gay people would like to go about their lives quietly as the writer puts it, but without fear of persecution or prosecution. Our President is correct – it is not up to him to campaign for gay rights, it is up to us Zimbabweans to accept all peace loving people for who they are and what they are, where they are from – even if they do not fit the norms of their own beliefs.

    1. Being gay is a deplorable choice. it is not a right. being gay and being on alcohol or drug abuse is the same. It’s just a lame, very lame choice. it should and can never be a right. being gay should remain banned in zimbabwe forever

    2. Homosexuality is wrong and not a human behavior. when two gays decide to adopt a child, is the child not been deprived of his/her right to male and female, mom and dad parents. normal people cant accept abominable beliefs

  8. homosexuality is simply not a debatable issue in Zim and we love it that way… Thank u Mr President!

    1. Everything is, or should be, debateable. To deny or refuse any discussion is the first step to totalitarianism – something that ZANU has excelled at for decades. You are ignorant, and you are denied the knowledge and wisdom you should be seeking – as are all Zimbabweans.

  9. We had a gay president – Canaan Sodindo Banana? when RGM was prime minister back then….could be why it’s not constitutional now. He’d made it “quietly” to the top!

    1. SAGITARR, you habitually go out of topic and your attempt at sarcasm falls flat. Why are you dwelling on Banana? Is this to compensate for your shallow intellect and limited scope?

      1. Because it is true? Canaan Banana’s homosexuality need never have been a problem, had Zimbabwe been more accepting and open as a society. Worse, and appallingly, he took advantage of his position to drug-rape his subordinates. Mugabe’s bias towards “comrades in arms” let his criminal behaviour land softly, and an opportunity to show moral courage in two directions (impartial trial and sentencing; and a hard look at the issues of sexuality and sex education in Zimbabwe) was squandered.

  10. CONWAY IF ILLEGITIMATE PRESIDENT WAS ACCEPTED AS U WROTE OPENING PARAGRAPHY WHY WAS HE NOT GIVEN MONEY URI DOFO RAKADZIDZA

    1. g40, do they still make neanderthals like you?

  11. chihombe madhara

    kupiwa mari yeyi,nani,marashika vakuru

  12. @chihombe saka imeeting yekungoungana?plus constituation yedu neither denies or allows gays so conway usanyepa pachiwana chedu hatizvibvumire vanozviita ngavaite asi hatizvibvumire

  13. Lord bless all the Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders thru out the world. No one has got the the right to excoriate LGBT pple. WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?
    In Zim, there are GALZ offices and this shows that homosexuality is accepted in Zim though we have few misguided and ignorant pple who are homophobic.
    Mukunetswa neyi, ndimi munokwirwa here kana kukwira???

    1. It becomes a problem when the gay want us accept that they are normal when we see it otherwise. It is like want us to accept that it is your personal choice or sexual orientation that you find dogs attractive than people, we will never do that.

      1. stupid why do u want to be involved in someone sexlife. whoa r you?? a condom?

    2. The Lord will never bless cursed things, If he destroyed Sodom and Gomorah for being gay…..he will destroy those who partake in it today bcoz he is the same today, yesterday and forever.Unless they repent they will be burned.

    3. NACIDO RICO, you have made a glaring omission that many homosexuals hate the mere sight of women. It could be due gynophobia, which is defined as “the fear or hatred (or both) of women. Usually men suffer from this phobia, which is also known by names like Gynephobia or Feminophobia. Such individuals fear women or having sexual intercourse with them. They might have hatred or ill will towards their own sisters or mothers or, in general, all women . . .” It’s a type of specific social phobia like homophobia. So being gay can be a psychotic illness, not a lifestyle choice.

  14. Spot on Bra Kodza. Impressive analysis. Quest truly displayed the worst of his selfish needs even pointinf his figure to President Mnangagwa who stood his ground firmly.

  15. Well said.

  16. man is naturally evil and needs heavy handedness to keep him on the right path…no equal rights to those committing unnatural acts in any lifetime ever zimbabwe

  17. I like your article Conway. spot on and good analysis as well. thank you for spreading the message that even us as the Zimbabwean public back our president’s views on LGBT issues. such acts are deemed as uncivilised in Africa and indeed we need protection from rogue elements of the society lest we be forced to accept the unacceptable.

  18. just to say “SODOM AND GOMORRAH WENT ON FIRE BECAUSE OF THE SAME ACTS”

  19. Pliz folks don’t b fooled,you can not go against the great god(the creator of the universe).God knew even from the very beginning that even the so called gays,lesbians had capacity not to practice it.Do it at your own risk.Just as good as those who are attracted to have sex with animals god knew they can stop it at will,itz just a matter of sinful choice.This is not worth discussing anyway by humans of small minds, rather by the high gods& it stands forbidden.Why all societies around the world originally knew of this ban fr the high gods except only recently is even a warning to those who advocate for it

  20. I will have the last word – Tutani what if your child or other close relative turns out to be gay what will you do? Wouldn’t you advocate for inclusion of gay rights in the Constitution? People do not get to be gays by choice by the way. It’s not a lifestyle choice.

    1. MUSONA, you’re thick as a brick. Tutani has said live and let live.And we might as well put the issue to a referendum to determine how people think about it. If same-sex marriage was purely a human rights issue, it would not have been put to a referendum in Australia, Ireland, California etc.

  21. I think as a nation we should try to avoid everything that is unchristian like. Going against God will bring us more misery. #good article

    1. @Collen – God created gays as well as the heterosexuals. If it is “unchristian” then God should not have created gays.

      1. God did not create sexual deviants. Heterosexuals have the ability to create life. Comparing hetrosexuality to homosexuality is like comparing apples and oranges

        1. @Jongwe – nonsense. Where do gays come from then if they were not created by your God? Where is it written that a man will not have consensual sex with another man? Ditto a woman cannot have consensual sex with another woman? Ditto man should only have consensual sex with a woman?

  22. Being gay isnt a choice always put dat into yo mentality mazimbabweans

    1. DEE, I suppose being a nymphomaniac is not a choice. And why do some male gays hate the mere sight of women?

  23. The president handled that terrible interview well. Quest crossed professional boundaries.

  24. Bo rational analysis here kulu.. in the mean time let me enjoy my human rights as a gay zimbabwean man.

  25. Don’t waste time talking about gay rights. There is nothing like gay right. The constitution was created to protect people from acts of satan so that they live within the norms and values of being human. Since when did satan started to have a right in our dignified world? These were the same reasons why sodom and gomora was destroyed. Homosexuals are worse than pigs and dogs they don’t deserve a place in human world.

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