Concerned faculty, staff, and students at the University of Cape Town have protested Professor Patrick Lumumba’s appearance at the EFF’s 10th anniversary festivities by starting a petition.
Lumumba must not be permitted to address the university community at the lecture that will take place in Sarah Baartman Hall, according to the concerned UCT LGBTIQA+ Staff and Allies.
Emeritus Professor Daya Reddy, the interim vice-chancellor of UCT, has been targeted by the petition, which objects and labels Lumumba as anti-LGBT.
This comes after Lumumba acknowledged in the past that he harbored homophobic views and publicly criticized homosexual Africans as being “unnatural” on multiple media channels.
However, as part of the EFF’s 10 year anniversary festivities, he has been invited by the organisation to give a public lecture on campus on July 24, 2023.
“We believe that by providing Professor Lumumba a platform on campus to deliver a public lecture, UCT signals its tacit acceptance of his homophobic and, in South Africa, unconstitutional pronouncements, which border on hate speech,” UCT’s sociology department’s Dr Natasha Vally said.
“He congratulated Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni for signing into Ugandan law the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2023, which further criminalises LGBTQIA people in Uganda,” she said.
Vally argued that allowing a self-admitted homophobe to continue with a public lecture on their campus signalled to LGBTIQA+ staff and students that they were not valued or safe in their workplace and place of study.
“While we call on the UCT to not provide any space for Prof Lumumba to speak, we find it notably unacceptable that a lecture by such a hateful and divisive figure be held in a hall renamed to honour Sarah Baartman, an indigenous woman trafficked, kept in captivity, and sexually abused by colonialists who sought to dehumanise her,“ Vally said.
Vally added that preventing homophobic speech and denying access to public platforms for homophobes was not about silencing dissenting opinions or stifling debate.
In response, UCT spokesperson, Elijah Moholola, said that the event in question was not a UCT event, but an event that was scheduled to be hosted on the UCT campus by an external party.
“This is in line with similar previous external events hosted on campus, including but not limited to corporate or sporting events.
“It should be noted that UCT management is not in any way involved in the programme for events hosted by external parties on campus, nor does management necessarily align with the hosting external parties or any views held or expressed by any speaker,” Moholola said.
Moholola added that the university had noted with concern the comments that had subsequently been made by the speaker and the critical conversations that had emerged as a result. He urged the external host and the concerned parties to engage these accordingly.