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Tsvangirai's explicit support for gays will cost him politically

06 May 2016 at 20:31hrs | Views
"Nothing that isn't a real crime makes a man appear so contemptible and little in the eyes of the world as inconsistency," noted Joseph Addison (1672-1719), an English essayist and politician.

That piece of advice can be very helpful to the MDC-T leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai whose record on flipping back and forth on policies has not only injured his brand but that of his party too.

Imagine asking someone to give a yes or no answer and that person keeps switching between the two choices. Leaders of such disposition lose credibility, for they cannot lead when they are not trustworthy. Interestingly, authorities in the discipline of leadership aver that inconsistency delays development. For instance, if a leader keeps on vacillating on a policy position, people will be left with no choice but to wait for the next change.

Having made abrupt reversal on several policies and decisions, stakeholders in the MDC-T are left with no option but to wait for the next change. Last week, this writer wrote on how Mr Tsvangirai flip-flopped on his position on election boycott and the so-called grand coalition. Such vacillation shows that there is a grave and personal great controversy within the MDC-T leader on issues of election and coalition.

The MDC-T leader will never cease to amaze people on his sudden about-turns. Inconsistency is the only thing that Mr Tsvangirai is consistent. This time around, he tried to use the Constitution to mask his endorsement of homosexuality.

"I only want to say that I will not prosecute or persecute gays because in the Constitution they are given that right. There is freedom of sexual orientation in the current Constitution of Zimbabwe. Why should that clause be violated," Mr Tsvangirai briefed journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club recently.

It is not an issue of violating the Constitution but a matter of condemning those who smuggled the gay issue into the Constitution. One does not need to be clever to know the culprit. That clause was a product of compromise during the Constitution making process. Mr Tsvangirai and his party fought nail and tooth for the inclusion of that clause in the charter. It was a clause coming out of their strong conviction, for one cannot fight for something that he does not hold dear.

But then, what is the real position of Mr Tsvangirai on homosexuality? The nation wants to know since the MDC-T leader has been oscillating ever since the subject was put on the national agenda. Mr Tsvangirai is on the horns of a dilemma. He knows that both sides of the coin have merits and demerits. Thus, he would rather play his cards cautiously and cunningly on the gay issue. He leaves people second-guessing him, with an escape room for the hackneyed ‘I was misquoted' excuse, familiar with many politicians.

Mr Tsvangirai knows for sure that the Zimbabwean society abhors homosexuality. He knows that his explicit support for gays will cost him politically in the political home ground. Zimbabweans across the religious, cultural and political divide have ethics that are incompatible with homosexuality. This is the reason why Mr Tsvangirai has not been overtly supporting the practice.

However, he also knows that the issue of homosexuality is at the heart of his benefactors from West. Since his party is stone broke, he knows that embracing homosexuality comes with rewards. He has been studying the situation in the region where some countries were threatened with aid withdrawal for not embracing same sex marriage. Some were even rewarded for embracing same. Prime examples are Malawi and Mozambique.

Malawi had to overturn a ban on homosexuality after the West, particularly the US, the Sodom of our time threatened to cut aid. Two Malawian men, who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2010 for gay marriage, had to be pardoned.

In 2015, Mozambique succumbed to western pressure and eventually decriminalised same sex marriage. According to AFP, the US became the biggest bilateral donor to Mozambique, trading in $382 million, mainly in energy and tobacco in 2013. Up until last year, foreign aid paid for over half of Mozambican public expenditure with gay activists urging all those who contribute aid to African nations, to redirect a huge chunk of it to Mozambique.

This is the same dollar that has pressed Mr Tsvangirai to warm up to the issue of homosexuality today, more so with the dire financial status of his party. He, however, needs to weigh his options and see if it is politically viable for him to embrace the abominable practice to attract the nauseating foreign funding and lose the local vote which loathes the practice.

Mr Tsvangirai now has a mammoth task to convince the West that he means his word this time around; having flip-flopped several times before on the same issue. Mr Tsvangirai must unequivocally state his position on homosexuality. President Mugabe's position on same is well documented globally. He is on record branding gays as worse than pigs and dogs. What about Mr Tsvangirai?

In March 2010, Mr Tsvangirai expressed his distaste for homosexuality. "I totally agree with the President. Nyaya yekuti umwe murume anofemera mugotsi meumwe murume haina kunaka," said Mr Tsvangirai, adding that the issue was not for discussion during the Constitution making process. However, the issue was discussed and included in the Constitution, which Mr Tsvangirai is citing today.

In 2011, the same Mr Tsvangirai made a volte-face. "My attitude is that I hope the Constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody. To me it's a human right," said Mr Tsvangirai in an interview with BBC. The issue which he said was not up for discussion is the same issue that he, a year later, was now viewing as a human right.

Zimbabwe's constitution proscribes the practice but in a very equivocal manner. It is high time that constitutional amendments are effected on Section 78(3) of the constitution that only states that "Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other."

This section stands accused of using vague, ambiguous and open-ended language that is subject to manipulation. Gays can argue that the constitution only outlaws same sex marriage but not same sex relationships. With this ambiguity, homosexuality is subtly entrenched in the constitution. It's time it should be amended in line with the national ethos.

Source - zbc
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