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Advocacy & campaigns

Letter to President Zuma on the appointment on John Qwelane

The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP)

2010-04-22, Issue 478

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The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP) wrote to the President on 19 January 2010 regarding the appointment of John Qwelane to the post of High Commissioner to Uganda. Despite assurances that the matter would be addressed, there has been no reply, prompting this follow-up letter

Dear Mr President

Honourable Jacob Zuma


The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP) wrote to the President on 19 January 2010 regarding the above mentioned matter. On 5 February we received a letter from Mr Robert Ngobeni of the Presidency s Administration Services acknowledging receipt of the letter and assuring us that it will receive your attention.

On 25 January 2010, the eve of the African Union Summit, The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said during a question we asked of her on a national radio station: "The ministry of international relations and co-operation, will respond to the Equality project's letter of concern , and added that if the President intends appointing Mr Jon Qwelane as the South African Ambassador to Uganda, the ministry will request a meeting between the Ministry the Presidency, the Equality Project including Mr Qwelane, to discuss the Equality Project's concerns . Ms Nkoana-Mashabae assured the public that we will not send anyone and anybody to represent themselves in another country, in contradiction to the country's constitution and the bill of rights."

Mr President, despite these assurances no such meeting took place. We were therefore very puzzled to read reports that during your recent State visit to Uganda, Mr Qwelane was seen next to you in what appeared as a confirmation of his diplomatic status. Indeed, there were press reports that members of the South African Embassy in Uganda had confirmed Mr Qwelane s appointment. This, despite there being no official confirmation from either your office or your government s information services.

In light of the above, Mr President, the Equality Project is left with no other option than to conclude that the pledges of your government to respond to, and engage, the views and concerns of South Africa's LGBTI and broader progressive community over the issue of Mr. Qwelane's appointment are not to be taken seriously. Further, at a time when violence and social discrimination against LGBTI persons in South Africa is rampant it must surely be paramount for our elected democratic leadership to openly commit to defending and upholding the entirety of the Bill of Rights in our Constitution.

With all due respect Mr. President, in the absence of such a commitment, the message that is being sent to the LGBTI community is that neither their views nor their lives are considered meaningful and/or equal to other citizens.

In struggle,

Phumi Mtetwa
Executive Director
Lesbian and Gay Equality Project

CC: Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
Minister: International Relations and Cooperation

Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba
Director General: International Relations and Cooperation

Ms Lindiwe Zulu
International Relations Adviser to the President

Commissioner Pregs Govender
Deputy Director: South African Human Rights Commission

Mr Robert Ngobeni

Phumzile S. Mtetwa
Executive Director
Lesbian and Gay Equality Project
Tel: +27 11 487 3810/1
Cell: +27 72 795 9194

Fax: +27 11 487 2332 or +27 86 652 9523

Email: [email protected]

Physical Address:

36 Grafton Road (Corner Hopkins Str.); Yeoville

Postal Address:

P O Box 27811; Yeoville; 2143

South Africa


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