By Alex Bell
15 December 2011
Bulawayo’s Mayor Thaba Moyo has insisted the City Council will be using 20 dustbins donated by a gay and lesbian rights group, amid media reports that the Council had deliberately removed the bins.
The metal bins are pink in colour and bear the name of the group which donated them, the Sexual Rights Centre. But according to the NewsDay newspaper the bins were “withdrawn” because of complaints from local residents and civic groups. The newspaper quoted the Bulawayo United Residents Association as saying that the Council should have consulted residents before accepting the donated bins.
The Association’s Secretary General Samuel Moyo is quoted as saying: “The issues of gays and lesbians is a very controversial national problem and council was, therefore, supposed to consult the people as accepting the donation could be misconstrued to mean the local authority subscribes to gay rights.”
But the City Mayor told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the bins were never removed, they had just not been placed for public use yet. He said the bins were still being kept at the City Council’s Cleansing Department in Thorngrove, which is near Khami Clinic.
“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.
He added that the claims that the city was bowing to pressure from upset local groups was “rubbish,” saying that the Council is “desperate for any assistance in clearing refuse.”
“We don’t regret receiving this donation and we won’t listen to anyone who disagrees with having them on the street,” Moyo said.
The Bulawayo Council is in the middle of trying to deal with a serious waste removal crisis across the City, which SW Radio Africa’s correspondent Lionel Saungweme has described as a “health hazard.” The Mayor said on Thursday that plans are in place to start dealing with these issues, including buying new refuse compactors. He said they are hopeful the funds to buy these compactors will be available “soon.”
Saungweme meanwhile explained that the dustbins were donated last Tuesday, specifically to coincide with the ZANU PF conference in Bulawayo last week. The party and its leader Robert Mugabe are harshly opposed to gay rights, despite some of the senior ZANU PF members alleged to be gay.
On the other hand, MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has previously called for gay rights to be enshrined in a new constitution. Saungweme said the timing of the bins being donated was done deliberately to highlight the differences between the two parties.