Diplomat’s job for a loyal pal

2010-01-24 11:39

FOR years Jon Qwelane used his column in the Sunday Sun to serve as

President Jacob Zuma’s praise-singer-in-chief. This week he was presented with a

diplomatic posting to Uganda, a stable and growing ­African country, but one

which has made the wrong headlines for its ­attempt to outlaw homosexuality.

Qwelane’s columns were virulently homophobic. Throughout ­Zuma’s

rape and corruption trials he saw his columns as a corrective against what he

believed was a ­media corps that was out to besmirch the ANC leader. He often

said the media was being run by “gutless and unethical” editors.

While his earlier columns were militantly defensive of Zuma, when

his hero was elected president they gave new meaning to sycophantic


After breakfast with the president, he wrote: “This week, believe

it or not, I saw the future and it looked very bright.”

Later he wrote: “I do not know about you but somehow I keep

­getting the distinct feeling that the “new” South Africa, despite the

­recession and other problems, is definitely getting somewhere – and pretty

fast, at that.”

About Zuma’s first big speech: “Without a doubt, this week’s state

of the nation address was the finest I heard in a very long time.”

In his later columns, before he quit to join a government public

relations department, he took on the role of advisor. In one column he writes:

“I still think, though, that there is still one important diplomatic post to

fill.” He wasn’t speaking about himself but suggesting that Zuma send former

president Thabo Mbeki to Zimbabwe.

This week the Human Rights Commission said it was suing Media24 for

R100?000 in the Equality Court for Qwelane’s homophobic columns. Below are

extracts from some of them:

OCTOBER 1 2006

Same-sex marriages have no place in South Africa.

At the outset, I might as well state it loud and clear that I am

not at all in favour of the mooted same-sex marriages which the Constitutional

Court has ordered Parliament to ­enact and which would thereby place homosexual

unions on exactly the same footing as heterosexual marriages. I have heard of

certain rams within a type of breed of sheep and some birds that do this sort of

thing but this is unnatural and it is not what our Constitutional Court should

want Parliament to legislate.

OCTOBER 8 2006

ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma referred to his youth in a speech

in KwaDukuza on Heritage Day and mentioned that no homosexual would have dared

to stand in front of him during a stick-fight. As far as I can interpret the

statement, he was being downright honest in his views about gays; he was not

insulting them at all.

But such is the moral blackmail encouraged by the abuse of the

­Constitution that Zuma has now been forced to make all sorts of ­retractions

and apologies, simply because some self-styled “moralists” and gays demand this.

I don’t speak on behalf of JZ; he is quite capable of doing that

himself. All I am saying is that his words, at core, are what many South

Africans are feeling deep inside about plans to give legal and moral

“respectability” to abominations such as men “marrying” other men and women

“tying the knot” with other women.

JULY 20 2008

Call me names, but gay is NOT okay.

Oh dear, here we go yet again. The Anglican Church is heading for a

split in its ranks, and homosexuals are the reason.

The real problem, as I see it, is the rapid degradation of values

and traditions by the so-called liberal influences of nowadays; you regularly

see men kissing other men in public, walking holding hands and shamelessly

flaunting what are misleadingly termed their “lifestyle” and “sexual


There could be a few things I could take issue with Zimbabwean

President Robert Mugabe about but his unflinching and unapologetic stance over

homosexuals is definitely not among those.

MAY 10 2009

Two weeks ago outside the Independent Electoral Commission’s

­results centre in Pretoria, Zahid ­Asmal, a radio colleague and friend of mine,

played tapes he recorded at the December 2007 conference of the ruling ANC in

Polokwane, including Msholozi’s rendition, after he soundly thrashed Mbeki, of

his catch-tune Awuleth’umshini Wami and, as usual, the song raised eyebrows and

excited comments.

An unoriginal idea had then come to my mind to capture Msholozi’s

spirited singing on my cellular phone to use as my ringtone. (Call it piracy if

you will, but sorry Mr President, I never thought about the matter of copyright

and royalties!)

MAY 24 2009
President Jacob Zuma has been in office hardly one

week but he is steadily proving his mettle as a ­national leader, giving clear

indications that the country is indeed in very good hands.

AUGUST 9 2009

President Zuma continues to confound and surprise his critics, and

he does so with quiet aplomb and no circumstance. His recent appointment to the

diplomatic service of arch-critic Tony Leon, a man usually suspected of

harbouring deep-seated rightwing tendencies, was a master stroke bar none.

I have said it before and I will keep saying it: President Jacob

Zuma will make a very good national leader as we forge ahead during his first

five-year term, and he can only get better as time moves on.

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