A MINISTER has demanded that traditional chiefs expel homosexuals from their communities and seize their land.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo said homosexuality was a “foreign value” as he chided Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for advocating gay rights.
"The chiefs are there to protect and promote our cultural values and those who support same sex marriages must be banished from the communities and be dispossessed of their land,” Chombo said on Friday, speaking in Jotsholo, Matabeleland North.
“What kind of madness is this that when we have beautiful women in our country some people want to marry other men?”
Chombo, a senior figure in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, was speaking to hundreds of villagers and traditional leaders attending the installation of Vusumuzi Nicodmus Mabhikwa as a chief.
Among the traditional leaders in attendance was Chief Gampu Sithole of Tsholotsho who said endorsing homosexuality would be going against “values that define us”.
“As chiefs, we are very clear on homosexuals. We denounce them. I agree with Minister Chombo that those who support homosexuality should be expelled from our communities and their land forfeited.”
Gay rights have become an electoral battleground with Zanu PF taking a hard-line stance which it feels is in sync with the public mood in conservative Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, meanwhile, has been caught in a policy muddle. After having initially denounced homosexuality, Tsvangirai retreated from that stance in a BBC interview last October.
"It's a very controversial subject in my part of the world,” he said. “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.”
The MDC-T later clarified that he was expressing a personal opinion, which was not the party position.
A battle is raging over gay rights around a new constitution currently being drafted, with claims – mainly emanating from Zanu PF – that there are attempts to “smuggle” gay rights into the country’s supreme law.
Chombo said: "The views you raised during the constitution outreach programme are there in Harare and they are written down. The problem is that our colleagues in government want to change your views and include foreign values.
"Zimbabweans spoke eloquently about same sex marriages, but the MDC-T want to smuggle the issue in order to please their Western masters.”
Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu also took up a similar theme, telling an audience which included ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa: “Homosexuality is an abomination before God and Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of it. It is a disgusting practice and Zimbabweans should oppose it.”