African Leaders Hide Political Woes Behind Homophobia

In late March, Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia, ordered a purge of homosexuals, stating that "The Republic of Namibia does not allow homosexuality or lesbianism here. Police are ordered to arrest you, deport you and imprison you." The Namibian Society for Human Rights countered that the "attempt to turn a personal dislike into ad hoc national policy is entirely uncomstitutional."

In late March, Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia, ordered a purge of homosexuals, stating that "The Republic of Namibia does not allow homosexuality or lesbianism here. Police are ordered to arrest you, deport you and imprison you." The Namibian Society for Human Rights countered that the "attempt to turn a personal dislike into ad hoc national policy is entirely uncomstitutional."

Given that he is a former freedom fighter and a head of state, Nujoma’s homophobic, discriminatory actions are particularly repugnant. His actions and rhetoric come on the heels of similar rhetoric and repression in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe has campaigned to imprison and expel same gender loving people.

Both Mugabe and Nujoma have equated homosexuality with bestiality and even murder, and both have called for the eradication of homosexuality from the face of the earth. These threatening pronouncements signal that a new wave of genocidal crimes against gays and lesbians in Africa could be in the making.

Virulent homophobia, incubated in the right-wing movements of the imperialist metropoles and also an outgrowth of Africa’s own indigenous patriarchal systems, is finding a home in the political agendas of desperate African leaders. Sadly, these leaders, having little power in a world dominated by Western global capital, seek to buttress their authority through corruption and strong-arming.

In the absence of real leverage, and confronted with more and more popular challenges to their leadership, they have resorted to scapegoating same gender loving people and fomenting a climate of heightened tolerance for misogyny.

It is not by chance that this recent outburst against homosexuals in Namibia comes just when the government has to leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Both societies committed troops to assist Laurent Kabila at a time when negotiations would have strengthened the democratic forces in the whole of Southern Africa. More importantly, these leaders committed their soldiers to train and fight beside those who committed genocide in Rwanda.

With this track record and the fact that these two leaders did not condemn the late Kabila when he called on people in his country to kill Tutsis, the attacks on same gender loving people are by no means an unfamiliar occurrence. In recent years, violence and hostility against gays and lesbians has arisen in tandem with a search for new sources of legitimacy for their increasingly unpopular regimes.

Namibia, a former German colony that was administered as a mandate and later annexed by South Africa, gained its independence in 1990 after a more than 20-year long anti-apartheid war.

The Black Radical Congress joins those who have strongly condemned the Namibian president’s assault on same gender loving people in his Southern African nation.

Author: Black Radical Congress

News Service: ZNet

URL: http://www.zmag.org/brchomophobia.htm