A HUGE chunk of disenchanted Zimbabweans carol perpetual melodies of the homeland’s disgraceful human rights record. They lament, with some semblance of nous that, for 35 years, vital human dignities have been repeatedly violated, often with arrogance and brutality. Examples that easily come to mind are the Gukurahundi massacres, extra-judicial killings, abductions, pre/post-election violence between 2000-2009 and, if the MDC-T are to be believed, strategically impotent, skewed and ‘Nikuved’ voting systems and processes.
It is easily acceptable that our civil rights repertoire is questionable to say the precious least, and this is a view I both lament and sympathise with. But I somewhat find this overt criticism to be quite two-faced, especially considering many if not all sectors that lambast repression with regards to the right to decide the right to life and the right to freedoms readily support our government when it extends that disregard to the right to consensual sex.
Whether the Zanu PF government has openly and repeatedly violated the rights of its citizens may be a matter of open debate, but it is documented fact that the President has compared gays to ‘worse’ than pigs and dogs, and he has downright condemned gays to something other. However the same people that fingers him in accusations of tyranny, bullying, kidnappings and anarchy, atypically esteem him for the defilement of the rights of LGBT’s. This is a double standard I dare say.
A few have argued that, should Zimbabwe go to a referendum on the matter of LGBTs, then the common people would overwhelmingly vote against gay rights. While this forecast may be audaciously accurate, it is very ignorant of liberalism and it represents a fundamentally flawed and hopelessly jaundiced approach to individual rights.
Human rights cannot and can never be matters of public opinion, debate, or choice. In allowing the majority to choose the rights of minorities, we are in bold effect perpetuating inequality and prejudicing the rights of minorities. As one scholar put it, asking the masses to vote on the rights of minorities is much like asking four wolves and one sheep to decide what is for dinner! We cannot, as a liberal society, force individual or majority preferences on minorities, and yet cry foul when one man decides to reverse the playing field and violate the rights of ‘others’, in favour of say, ‘minority Zanu PF Big Wigs’.Advertisement
The society we have presently is one that allows heterosexual couples, and individuals, like me, to dictate what rights minority homosexual couples may and may not enjoy. Anyone who supports this, heterosexual or homosexual, and yet wakes up and accuses Mugabe of violating other human rights is a hypocrite that lacks knowledge and understanding of what civil liberties truly are. The same goes for capital punishment, which presents a serious infringement of absolute rights to life. Regardless of the crimes purported, or committed, another individual, or collective cannot be allowed to dictate what privileges one can and cannot enjoy anymore, especially the irreversible right to life.
I am certain I have the support of Zimbabwe’s periodical Acting President, Emmerson Mnangagwa on the death penalty. But, sadly and paradoxically I most probably attract his ultimate condemnation for my support of the entirety of citizens’ rights, especially gay rights. For a country that prides itself as the ‘intellegisia of Africa’, we are gloomily and impolitely uneducated on rights and condescendingly hypocritical. We collectively denounce the oppression, and ostracism of some interest groups like the Kalangas while we readily embrace the depravation of rights of one particular minority; homosexuals. Someone please scream double standards!
It makes little sense to countenance freedom of worship, yet adopt values of one or two religions and use those to dictate what people otherwise uninterested in that religion should and should not do. If one is neither a Christian, a Traditionalist, nor a Muslim, why then should he/she be forced to adhere to principles of a religion he is not a part of?
We should advocate for a society that is devoid of lofty attitudes, and protects the rights of all its citizens. If one supports Zanu PF, they must not demand that their neighbour do the equivalent. If one marries a woman and enjoys a fruitful heterosexual relationship, they must not mandate that their fellow citizen do alike. Every citizen of this beautiful country should be allowed to pursue happiness, in whatever shape or form he/she prefers.
And if one allows his neighbour to the left to routinely steal from the neighbour adjacent to his house, and even supports the treachery, then one must not complain when the bandit visits his own garden to violate his rights to property.
We ought to create a society which respects the human rights all of them. Once we allow one to be violated, once we allow certain people the liberty to decide what rights others may not enjoy, then we should not cry foul when we create super power minorities/majorities that decide what rights we may not enjoy either.
We cannot be a truly democratic country that upholds the values of men, if we stand up against violation(s) of all but one human right.
Enough said, This Is Africa!
Maynard Manyowa is a political & social analyst. You can reach him for feedback via his website www.maynardmanyowa.com , via email – firstname.lastname@example.org , on Twitter – @iAmKudaMaynard or by liking his FB page – Maynard Kudakwashe Manyowa