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Gay campaigner attacks South African apathy towards Zimbabwe

Joseph Zeitlyn October 26, 2006

Peter Tatchell, gay rights activist joined campaigners from the Free Zim Youth (FZY) movement in protesting at a speech by South African foreign minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on international relations at the London School of Economics last night.

The protesters highlight the nature of the dictatorial Mugabe regime that has been omnipresent in Zimbabwe politics since independence and has also spiralled the previously buoyant country into economic catastrophe and human rights graveyard.

Alois Mbawara, of the FZY, said: ” South Africa has blocked calls for the UN to probe human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and it has endorsed Zimbabwe’s elections, even though they were conducted in an atmosphere of violent intimidation by Mugabe’s henchmen.

“Dr Zuma and President Mbeki know that the Zimbabwe government

violates SADC and AU democratic principles. By remaining silent, they tacitly endorse these violations”

Zuma was addressing the audience on the future of the United Nations; “We were sickened to hear Dr Zuma talk about international solidarity when her government is refusing to show solidarity with the persecuted people of Zimbabwe,” said Alois Mbawara, of the FZY.

The protesters heckled the speaker on the South African government’s lack of action against the Mugabe regime and its maltreatment of its citizens.

Initial protests were shouted down buy the chair person but as the protests went un-responded from Zuma they grew in intensity and Mr. Tachell took to the stage to unfurl a banner reading : ‘Mbeki’s shame. ANC betrays black Zimbabwe.’

Mr Tatchell was wrestled from the stage by security but the protests continued.

The two neighbours share a history of solidarity in fighting oppression and more recently South Africa is looked upon as the regions major power broker.

As the heckles escalated more and more protestors were ejected and eventually the police were called. Zuma made little recognition of the protests despite her past and when she did according to Mr Tatchell; “Dr Zuma said Zimbabweans in Britain had no right to speak out about the situation Zimbabwe. This is a bit much coming Dr Zuma, who spent much of the apartheid era in exile in the UK. That comment really incensed the audience.”

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