Singer Kelly Khumalo skipped her appearance at the grand reopening of Garwe Restaurant in Harare, Zimbabwe on Thursday, in solidarity with media personality Somizi Mhlongo, following a controversial move to block Mhlongo’s entry into the country.
The restaurant enlisted the services of the Empini hitmaker after Mhlongo was refused entry into Zimbabwe by officials, in what has been deemed a “homophobic move” by a church organisation, which wrote to authorities requesting that the Idols judge not be granted entry into the country because he was gay.
After appearing on social media posters anticipating her replacement for her popular friend, Khumalo was a no-show at the event.
Khumalo did not comment on the matter, but Zimbabwe-based fans of the star took to her Instagram page to commend her for the move.
“Thank you Kelly for not showing up at Garwe reopening. On behalf of all Zimbabweans in solidarity with Somgaga we love you,” Instagram user Tanyas Events wrote.
Tatenda MD wrote:
Well done Kelly Khumalo for not pitching up to Zimbabwe.
A Zimbabwean church group with a fellowship of about nine million congregants wrote to government requesting that Mhlongo be barred from entering the country because of his sexual orientation.
In a letter written on November 1 and addressed to the office of the president and Cabinet, the ministries if information and publicity and foreign affairs, and to the ruling Zanu (PF), the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe said it was “strongly against’’ Mhlongo’s entry into the country.
“We represent indigenous churches in Zimbabwe and are strongly rooted to our culture and support our revolutionary party. It is after we saw an article in our leading paper Sunday Mail, October 31 edition, that a South African well known gay, Somizi Mhlongo is coming to Zimbabwe to grace the reopening of Garwe Restaurant on November 4 2021. The church is strongly against such an event in the sense that Somizi is a homosexual .
“According to our peoples’ driven Constitution, Zimbabwe does not tolerate homosexuality.’’
The church group went on to say:
If we allow Somizi to come to our land, spiritually we would have been disturbed a lot, and physically we would have openly accepted homosexuality in Zimbabwe.
Somizi’s visit to Zimbabwe, the church alleges, would even affect the country’s 2023 election and may result in Zanu (PF) failing to win a majority as people will be offended by the government giving permission for his visit.
“After reading the Sunday Mail article, our congregation felt that they were being violated. We stand firm and say to you we don’t support Somizi’s visit to Zimbabwe,’’ wrote the church group in their letter.
The church is a body of 600 indigenous Apostolic and Zionist churches and was launched in 2010 with the mandate of protecting the interests of local indigenous churches.
It is strongly aligned to the ruling Zanu (PF) party.
Mhlongo took to his Instagram to address the matter and said he was informed that he was barred from entering the country through media inquiries on Wednesday.
I did not know what the whole story was, but the truth of the matter is there are people who did not want me to come to Zimbabwe based on my sexuality and they have made it clear.
Mhlongo added that this was not the first time something like this has happened to him.
“I am used to it. I am okay with it, but I am not okay at the same time because I could easily say I do not care. I live in a country where I am free to be me, it does not affect me because I do not need to go anywhere else. I am safe in my own country.” he said.
Mhlongo was immediately booked for another event in Namibia on the same night.
“What is sad is that them not wanting me to come to their country because I am gay will not change anything with regards to people being gay. I am not the reason people are homosexual. I might be the reason people feel bolder to be homosexual because I am proud of being homosexual.”