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Taylor & Francis
Published in Canadian Journal of African Studies, online 10 March 2017: 1-19.
Over the past 20 years, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his political party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), have relied heavily on political rhetoric that demonises lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. In this paper, it is argued that the anti-LGBT political rhetoric in Zimbabwe is part of a larger program known as “patriotic history,” which emphasises a particular kind of Zimbabwean identity to legitimise the continued rule of Mugabe and ZANU-PF. The value of combining patriotic history and political homophobia emerges out of the unique political and economic context which Mugabe’s regime found itself unable to adequately address. To illustrate how and why this has happened, the paper focuses on two key incidents: the 1995 Zimbabwe International Book Fair, and the public conversation over writing a new constitution between 2010 and 2013.