Gay South African actor and television personality Somizi Mhlongo has reportedly been dumped from a restaurant opening in Zimbabwe on Thursday.
Mhlongo’s advertised appearance as the headline guest incensed some members of the ruling ZANU–PF party, with indications that he is no longer attending the re-opening of Garwe restaurant in Harare.
ZANU–PF Youth League Acting Secretary-General and Politburo member Tendai Chirau called the owner of the restaurant to advise her that the government had “great concerns” with Mhlongo’s invitation.
“I have engaged the owner of the outlet, Ms Mandi, expressing our concerns and those by different societal groups over the invitation of one of the highly controversial guests (a declared ngito [a derogatory term for gay]),” said Chirau.
“I am glad to announce that the owner took heed of the great concerns and elected to remove the said ngito from the guest list and never to associate themselves with the said character again.
“As a nation, we all need to be alert against the encroachment of foreign and uncouth practices that are against the dictates of our morals and constitution.
“The Youth League remains committed to supporting the birth, growth, and sustainability of indigenous businesses.
“Let us remain resolute in upholding our morals and values.”
Garwe owner Mandi Mvukwe-Chimhini said that she could neither confirm nor deny that she had been forced to drop Mhlongo from the guest list.
Churches under the banner of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe have also vowed to block Mhlongo from coming to the country.
The group has written to the Office of the President and Cabinet and several government ministries advising them to ban the gay actor and socialite from visiting Zimbabwe because the constitution does not permit same-sex marriages.
An anonymous gay activist said that the government’s stance showed that intolerance remains a major concern in Zimbabwe.
“If a ruling party can show such crass intolerance of barring Somizi, it shows we are not going anywhere in terms of upholding the rights of the LGBTIQ community,” they said.
Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe programmes manager Samuel Matsikure said that the organisation was still to ascertain the circumstances leading to Mhlongo’s ban.