'Zimbabwe doesn't tolerate homosexuality' - church group looks to block Somizi's planned visit

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Zimbabwean church groups have objected to Somizi Mhlongo's visit.
Zimbabwean church groups have objected to Somizi Mhlongo's visit.
Oupa Bopape, Gallo Images
  • Somizi Mhlongo's impending visit to Zimbabwe may be blocked.
  • The Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe has written to the president's office and other ministries.
  • Mhlongo had been invited to Gava Restaurant in Harare for an exhibition cooking gig this coming weekend.

South African socialite and television personality Somizi "Somgaga" Mhlongo's visit to Zimbabwe could be blocked by the government at the behest of a homophobic group of church leaders.

Somizi had been contracted by a prime eatery in Harare, Gava Restaurant, for an exhibition cooking gig this coming weekend.

Upon learning of the imminent visit, the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) wrote to the president's office and other ministries, including tourism and foreign affairs, saying, "Somizi is a homosexual, hence according to our people driven constitution, Zimbabwe doesn't tolerate homosexuality".

READ | Somizi Mhlongo clears the air on reports of 'new found love'

The group said it consulted members of different church denominations who said they "felt vulnerable for our rights".

Since coming to power through a military assisted coup in November 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been widely considered as "reasonable" and "understanding" by the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) grouping.

But Mnangagwa's party compatriot, Zanu PF Youth League leader Tendai Chirau, supported the stance taken by the churches.

He said:

As a nation we all need to be alert against the encroachment of foreign and uncouth practices that are against our morals and constitution.

Chesta Samba, GALZ director, said it was unfortunate Zimbabwean immigration laws prohibited members of the LGBTQIA+ communities from travelling to the country.

"Without giving them (ACCZ) any due regard, the Immigration Act provides for prohibition of entry into Zimbabwe of a number of individuals, including homosexuals.

"The particular provisions of the Act (section 14) are archaic and shameful and in urgent need of repealing to align the Act to the constitution," he said, adding that the church grouping should not appoint themselves guardians of the country.

Former president Robert Mugabe once described gay and lesbian people as "worse than pigs and dogs". He was also at loggerheads with South African Anglican cleric Desmond Tutu, who has a long history fighting for lesbian and gay rights.

However, in 2016 Mugabe begrudgingly allowed members of the LGBTQIA+ communities to visit Harare for the 18th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA).

News24 reached out to Mhlongo for comment which will be added once received.

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