Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to speak out against his deputy president David ‘DD’ Mabuza’s recent comments on anti-gay laws in Uganda.
“I call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to strongly rebuke deputy president Mabuza’s remarks on homosexuality and blatant refusal to condemn these actions, and to break this government’s silence by taking a strong public stance against the attack on LGBTQI+ Africans in many countries on the continent,” he said in a statement.
The deputy president caused outrage last week by saying South Africans must be “decent enough to keep our mouth shut” about human rights abuses in the East African country.
In Uganda, homosexuality is illegal and can be punishable by life imprisonment, and some MPs are pushing for new laws which would make homosexual acts punishable by death.
This caused DA MP Tim Brauteseth to ask in a question-and-answer session held in the National Council of Provinces (NCoP) last Thursday: “How [can] the South African constitutional imperatives to protect marginalised persons and communities [be] aligned with the silence on the part of the department of international relations and cooperation on the developments in Uganda, whose parliament is considering an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that intends to impose sentences ranging from seven years in prison to death for either being gay or supporting anyone who is?”
Mabuza answered by saying that while South Africa’s Bill of Rights ensured that we didn’t discriminate against the LGBTQI+ community, our laws “should not be in violation of international law that we are signatories to,” such as the “principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of another state”.
“We are talking about a matter that is still on the table of the people of Uganda that they are discussing. I am sure we must be decent enough to keep our mouth shut,” he added a bit later on.
“It cannot be this government’s stance to keep quiet in the face of an assault on the rights of fellow Africans,” Steenhuisen said elsewhere in the statement.
“As a leader on the continent, South Africa ought to be a vocal champion of human rights and a torchbearer for progressive, compassionate politics.”
“The deputy president’s conduct in parliament yesterday smacks of cowardice. Our nation and our continent deserve much better,” said Steenhuisen.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)