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Zimbabwe's Former President Banana-- Accused—Flees Country

Human Rights Struggle in Full Swing After Sodomy Conviction

Current President Mugabe Calls Gays & Lesbians "Lower Than Pigs"

By Corrine Hicks

Former President of Zimbabwe, the Reverend Canaan Banana, 62, fled his African nation after being convicted of sodomy by a Harare court. Eleven counts of the "crime" had been brought against him. cbanana.gif - 11.17 K Canaan Banana

The former President, a Methodist clergyman who is married with children, vigorously denied the charges. His trial, which took 17 days in June, brought forth testimony from cooks and bodyguards who were lured, according to what they said, into his study where he reportedly attempted to play cards with them, get them drunk and, while dancing, to grope them.

Jumping from the study's window, or pushing the former President into his swimming pool some of the "offended" claimed to have escaped seduction.

One Banana bodyguard, a police inspector, Jefta Dube, testified that he'd been the former President's "sex slave" for two years after being drugged during one of Banana's more successful seduction scenes. Dube related how he'd awakened from a stupor to find his pants around his ankles. He killed a colleague who'd ridiculed him as "Banana's wife," and thereafter he faced murder charges which helped exacerbate the sodomy charges against Banana.

Banana argued that the charges against him were politically motivated, inaugurated to prevent him from ever again running for political office.

zimbab.gif - 16.16 K President Robert Mugabe The current Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, though he's remained silent about the charges against his former chief, has repeatedly made negative comments about Zimbabwean gays and lesbians, calling them "lower than pigs and worse than dogs." Zimbabwean gay activists, operating in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, are now responding heroically, in an attempt to deflect such high-level criticism.

Other African heads of state, President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia and President Sam Nujoma of Namibia, have since followed Mugabe's lead, making hate-filled commentaries about homosexuals. In South Africa, however, the state has legalized same-sex relations and offers protection to gay men and lesbians under its new Constitution.

Former President Banana is said to have fled to Botswana, is in hiding, and has asked for political asylum.

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