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South Africa's EFF Must Revoke the Invitation of Kenyan Homophobe Professor

by Melanie Nathan, June 09, 2023.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by MP Julius Malema must revoke the invitation of Professor Patrick Lumbumba from Kenya to keynote the tenth anniversary celebration of the party.

Controversy is growing as Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) refuse to revoke the invitation of admitted homophobe, Kenyan Professor Patrick Lumumba, \who was invited to keynote the tenth anniversary celebration lecture of the EFF, to be held at University of Cape Town.

Kenyan Professor Patrick Lumumba recently commended Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni for attesting to the anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023, dubbed “The Kill the Gays Bill.”

Malema and the EFF should revoke the invitation because its is inviting an admitted homophobe to be the keynote speaker at the important tenth anniversary celebration and so is tantamount to an endorsement of homophobia

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has defended inviting the Kenyan the pan-Africanist scholar, saying that this would be a chance to speak to Lumumba about his stance on the Ugandan law.

What nonsense! Malema’ and the EFF's approach is deeply flawed for a number of reasons and here is why:

Context: Uganda’s new law spells penalties horrifically and shamefully harsh. The law proscribes twenty years in prison for so called “promotion” of homosexuality, life in prison for same-sex relations, and the death penalty for so called “aggravated homosexuality, which includes “serial offenders.” Prior to its passage Uganda’s LGBTQI+ community has been fleeing persecution for well over a decade. Now this law has caused a significant uptick in the violence and forced displacement of Uganda’s LGBTQI+ community, with few pathways to protection and safety. People are being hunted, assaulted and are fleeing by the hundreds, fearful of an ensuing genocide that the law seems to license.

1. Malema and the EFF MUST revoke Lumumba's invitation. Inviting an admitted homophobe to be the keynote speaker at the tenth anniversary celebration is tantamount to an endorsement of homophobia, no matter what he speaks about. It is not about what he is going to say - but who he is. This is a significant event and the stain and stink of homophobia will be its legacy. In fact it is so disingenuous and egregious that it negates all or any support Malema has provided the LGBTQI community in the past to include the anti-Uganda law march on Pretoria protesting the Bill.

2. Malema ‘s defense that this is an opportunity to dialogue is a non-starter. What is preventing a dialogue on Zoom? Or a dedicated forum to the question of the Bill? And my message to Hon. Malema is if you are geniune about the idea of dialogue then how about creating a level playing field. That would mean a conversation between Lumumba and a person form Uganda with lived experience, talking face to face, with equal time.. Not a South African politician or academic who has not suffered the result of the law and anti-homosexuality climate. In fact what is the use of a dialogue with someone who is not even from the LGBTQI+ community? Not only does this disqualify meaningful dialogue but its a shameful shutting out of authentic representation. 3. Kenya is contemplating similar law to Uganda . How dare Malema and the EFF give it credence by endorsing one of its proponents. Giving Patrick Lumumba this platform at such an auspicious event serves to endorse the speaker and all he stands for including the idea that Kenya is on course for its own Kill the Gays Bill. 4. Weigh the harm versus the good and as a country conditions expert that testifies in the courts under oath to these conditions I assure you the harm outweighs the good.

5. Malema’s Twitter post, said that “different opinions made discourse exciting.” This is mind-blowing and insensitive. This is not about opinion. This is about challenging homophobia. This is life or death for some people and to couch this in such phraseology is to minimize the genocidal consequences of this law is unconscionable. If Mr. Malema finds this discourse so exciting let him have it in a more appropriate venue that at least includes someone with lived experience. This is not a boxing match with rules. This is thousands of people hunted, hiding and fleeing for their lives and Malema is cheering on its supporters through this prestigious invitation. This is not the appropriate forum to tackle such issue with dialogue. It's a celebration on EFF. Such dialogue deserves its own platform and should not be treated as an incidental.,

And then Sinawo Thambo said that the EFF party did not agree with Lumumba on the Ugandan law. "Our position remains the same, we are still in support of the LGBTQI community." No that is not true. By inviting Patrick Lumumba you are not supporting the LGBTQI+ community you are supporting a homophobe and even engaging in dialogue does not change that because those who should be engaged are not invited. I challenge Malema to revoke this invitation and to invite Professor Lumumba to a panel, chaired by South Africa’s LGBTQI+ representatives with a Ugandan refugee or asylum seeker at the table and a few experts on the issue. That would be support and that would be dialogue and that would be fair engagement to elucidate opinions – not a celebratory lecture that praises the homophobe. When all is said and done surely the EFF is better than a homophobe keynoting at its celebration of ten magnificent years.


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