Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The battle of the bins in Bulawayo

By Paul Canning

A bizarre controversy has broken out in Zimbabwe over pink rubbish bins.

The bins were donated by a gay group, the Sexual Rights Centre, to the city of Bulawayo. They're metal, painted pink and have the group's name on.

They were donated whilst the ruling Zanu-PF party of Robert Mugabe was holding a conference in the city - not coincidentally, according to SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme - where the party once more decided to put forward the 87-year old Mugabe as President. Sexual Rights Center spokesman Mojalisa Mokoele said the donation of trash bins was intended to raise awareness of cleanliness.

The Bulawayo United Residents Association condemned the bin donation and there have been calls to paint the bins black.

But Bulawayo's Mayor Thaba Moyo, a member of the opposition MDC-T party, has insisted the City Council will be using the 20 dustbins.

"We really welcome this donation and we are busy trying to arrange to put them in strategic places that receive a lot of traffic," Mayor Moyo said.

There has been a storm around LGBT rights in Zimbabwe with the recent pro-gay comments of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai, from the opposition MDC party, and a nasty split in the Anglican Church's local branch over the issue. MDC members have threatened to name names of closeted gays in Mugabe's party.

A spokesperson for the faction of Tsvangarai's party which opposes him said it was not surprised Cllr Moyo chose to accept the pink bins.

“To us this is not a surprise. Tsvangirai and his people have been advocating for gays and lesbians rights hence they accepted this donation with open hands,” organising secretary, Qhubani Moyo said.

“However, Tsvangirai and his party should not bring gays to Bulawayo. If they want to do it, they should go and do it at Harvest House (MDC-T headquarters), not here.”

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