Homophobia,  Human Rights

Tsvangirai: just a Mugabe in the wings?

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s ‘Movement for Democratic Change’ was hailed as a new sort of Southern African leader. The name of his party said everything you thought you needed to know: where Zanu-PF was stuck in quagmire of paranoia and corruption, they offered movement; where Zanu-PF was an autocratic party transforming into a personality cult around an aging dictator, they proposed a new democratic dispensation; and while Zanu-PF clung to power as the country plummeted downwards, they proposed a change in direction.

When Morgan Tsvangirai, instead of holding on to his demands, accepted the post of Prime Minister from Robert Mugabe after a disputed election, a few eyebrows were raised. Nevertheless it was suggested that he was pursuing a real politik, and many were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. At least, some observed, there was some movement if not a Movement.

His international supporters hoped that in Morgan Zimbabwe would finally find their Mandela: an assured, astute and world-class statesman who would steward the country towards a mature human-rights orientated Constitution to match South Africa’s.

But it doesn’t look like that will ever happen. Robert Mugabe revealed himself to be an dangerous bigot when he denounced gay Zimbaweans as “worse than pigs and dogs”. Certainly it woke up many of his erstwhile international supporters to the type of man he really was. But now it seems Morgan Tsvangirai is of the same mind. When Mugabe stated that including gay rights in the new constitution was “madness”, he agreed.

Speaking at an International Women’s Day rally in Harare, he said, according Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian:

“Why should a man seek to have a relationship with another man when women make up 52% of the population? In fact, men are fewer than women.”

All that statement reveals is that Tsvangirai is pig-ignorant, and such bigotry and discrimination – and probably violence – will continue to dog this small country. If Zimbabwe cannot produce a leader of vision and modernity, the country’s future will remain bleak. And the second time around, few outside the country will care. People hate reruns.