Last week, Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu announced that government had dropped charges against homosexuals and suspended anti-gays laws pending a vote whether to revoke the legislation.
By arbitrarily suspending the anti-homosexual legislation, government is tuning Malawi into a banana republic where laws are not respected and can be changed at any time on the influence of the donor community or to please them to secure favours. The action not only shows government is desperate to secure aid, but it is being disrespectful and usurping the powers of Parliament which is the rightful body to amend, repeal or retain laws. If anything, government should have asked Parliament to review the law. The issue would have been debated before a consensus is reached.
As MCP President Lazarus Chakwera has rightly pointed “suspension of homosexual laws should be approved by Parliament.” Why is government in such a hurry to the extent of ignoring procedures? And where is separation of powers?
Government should not be so desperate for aid to the point of bowing to pressure from the donor community to legalise same-sex marriage. Malawi is a sovereign State and it should not be pushed around by industrialised countries to adopt something that is against the wishes of Malawians. So, the assertion by Tembenu that “we are responding to the concerns that people have had that we have breached our international obligation” is being mean with the truth.
While the donor community seem not to trust the DPP government with their money in the wake of Cashgate and lack of financial prudence, it is equally true that they are trying to use aid as a weapon to have Malawi adopt same-sexmarriage. Donors know that Malawi is a poor country and desperate for help and it is easy to impose their values through manipulation of domestic laws using aid as one of the conditions.
Although the government has assured the donor community that it is committed to reviewing anti-homosexuality law in consultation with the people, it is a foregone conclusion that the overwhelming majority of Malawians are against homosexuality. Chancellor College political science lecturer Boniface Dulani was quoted in the media as saying that “If you look at the survey numbers, you will see that 95 percent of Malawians disapprove of homosexuality.” So it will be a waste of public resources for government to consult the people when they know the outcome.
Government should have taken a cue from President Uhuru Kenyatta who told President Barack Obama when he visited Kenya last July that “gay rights is non-issue and Kenya is not keen on embracing homosexuality”. Government should have been bold enough to inform the donor community that the overwhelming majority of Malawians reject homosexuality rather than skate around the issue.
It is unfair for developed countries to be imposing their own will, values or laws on weaker nations like Malawi. Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe recently told Parliament that the donor community laid down new 20 conditions for government to fulfill before aid could resume. Some of the conditions are not in the interest of Malawians. Should Malawi just accept anything because of aid? n