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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist

Staff, students call on UCT to ban ‘homophobic’ Lumumba

Malema digs in, says EFF won't sensor Lumumba for his views.

Staff members and students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) are demanding the institution rescind its permission for Kenyan-born, anti-queer Professor Patrick Loch Otieno (P.L.O) Lumumba’s EFF 10th anniversary lecture next month.

The signatories in the petition letter call themselves LGBTIQA+ and allied staff.

They addressed the petition to the interim Vice-Chancellor Daya Reddy, arguing that Lumumba’s presence would signal UCT’s acceptance of his homophobic stance.

“Allowing a self-admitted homophobe to continue with a public lecture on our campus signals to LGBTIQA+ staff and students that we are not valued or safe in our workplace and place of study,” read the letter. 

‘Stay away from Baartman Hall’

The signatories are adamant that banning Lumumba does not constitute shutting down dissenting voices.

“There is nothing subtle or insidious about Lumumba’s homophobia, nor his explicit support for Museveni’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2023.

“Preventing homophobic speech and denying access to public platforms for homophobes is not about silencing dissenting opinions or stifling debate.

“Rather, ensuring that homophobes have no access to UCT’s prestigious platform is a fulfilment of the university’s responsibility to protect its community of staff and students,” they wrote in the petition.

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Lumumba’s lecture is billed to be held at Sarah Baartman Hall, named after the Khoisan woman who was taken to Europe, where she was humiliated and objectified.

The group says Lumumba does not deserve to grace the hall.

“It is ironic that Lumumba, who similarly dehumanises and objectifies LGBTIQA+ Africans and applauds the curtailing of their freedoms in Uganda, has free reign to continue his homophobic discursive violence in a venue named in remembrance of and as a gesture of restorative justice towards Sarah Baartman,” read the petition.

Malema shrugs off criticism

Lumumba publicly supported the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill that President Yoweri Museveni has since signed into law.

The bill drew widespread condemnation from across the globe.

Labelling the bill a “draconian law,” EFF members joined the condemnation and marched to the Ugandan embassy in Pretoria, calling on Museveni to drop the bill.

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Social media users piled up criticism against the EFF, calling for the red berets to withdraw Lumumba invitation.

However, Malema dug in, saying allowing different views “makes a discourse more exciting”.

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