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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Press Release: SA Lesbian and Gay Community on Zimbabwe

16 April 2008
LGEP PRESS STATEMENT: SA LESBIAN AND GAY COMMUNITY CONCERNED ABOUT DEMOCRACY CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE

The South African Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP), formerly known as the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (NCGLE), is concerned about the deepening political, economic and social crises in Zimbabwe. We express our full solidarity with the lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, women, workers and all the people of Zimbabwe. We add our voice in condemning the unjustified delay in the release of the 29 March elections. As Zimbabwean Independence Day approaches on 18 April 2008, Zimbabweans have nothing to celebrate in honour of their heroic liberation struggle and historic achievement of freedom and democracy.

The actions of the government of Zimbabwe, the police, the army, the judiciary and the Zimbabwean Elections Commission are against universally accepted democratic principles and practice. The Zimbabwean government is responsible for the social and economic crises facing that country. The crises are rooted in actual social stratification processes and ZANU-PF policy choices that support them. These originate from the early 1990s adoption of neo-liberal Structural Adjustment Programmes by Mugabe's government. They have been reinforced by the failure of that government to transform that country's economy into one at the hands and service of the needs of the overwhelming majority of the people. It is under such conditions that principles of democracy, equality and non-discrimination get sacrificed and political leaders look for easy scapegoats to hide their failures. No wonder then that Mugabe's first targets were lesbian and gay people in Zimbabwe.

The homophobia promoted by ZANU-PF is not divorced from the oppression of women, the exploitation of workers and the gross violation of human rights that the same government has been responsible for. Beyond majority numbers, democracy is also about progressive values of equality, freedom, human rights and non-discrimination.

We call on the lesbian and gay community in Zimbabwe to emerge and add their principled voice in the struggle for democracy, freedom and equality in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean political protagonists will have to map out their own process and ordinary Zimbabweans must settle their scores with their oppressors. But South and Southern Africans have an important role to play:

1. First, the South African government must take a principled position on Zimbabwe, an approach that is radically different from its current approach. Whilst continuing to foster dialogue and negotiations between various Zimbabwean forces, the South African government must make it clear that democratic principles are not for sale and must not show any equivocation in publicly condemning the undemocratic actions of the Zimbabwean government. It is for these reasons that the LGEP welcomes the 14 April 2008 statement of the ANC National Working Committee.

2. Secondly, a wide range of progressive forces and voices in South Africa must do more to build and express solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe. This must start with political pressure on the South African government and the diplomatic representatives of Zimbabwe in South Africa.

3. Finally, as progressive South Africans we must engage our Zimbabwean and Southern African comrades in struggle around the affirmation of democracy, people’s power, social justice, equality, non-discrimination, and the removal of all forms of oppression in the much-needed new constitutional framework that Zimbabwe needs.

We therefore call on the entire lesbian and gay community in South Africa to add their voice in support of democracy, freedom and equality in Zimbabwe.

FOR COMMENTS, CONTACT:
Phumzile S. Mtetwa
Email: phumi@equality.org.za // admin@equality.org.za
Website: www.equality.org.za

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