Many of us haven’t heard much about Ms. Zenebu Tadesse, the Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs until her controversial tweets regarding anti-gay laws in Africa.
Well, according to one account, “The Minister has, in her career, significantly contributed to the development of labor and social policies in the country aimed at improving social welfare and the protection of women and children’s rights.”
“A devoted advocate for the betterment of the life of disadvantaged people in Ethiopia, she has been actively engaged in high-level policy making for over 15 years”, the account reads.
Ms. Zenebu got into the limelight when she started tweeting pro-LGBT texts beginning by the end of the last month.
And guess what — those folks, who still think gay people do not exist in Ethiopia, are also present on Twitter with their outmoded mindsets, and Ms. Zenebu wasn’t spared from their ignorant remarks. This was what she had to tweet back at one of them: “of course we have gays in our country, we are as normal as many other places in the world.”
It didn’t take long before tweeps began to ask her whether she’s now officially supporting gay rights.
“I wish to promote love and respect to one another, stop wasting energy with negative thoughts please,” tweeted Zenebu, obviously trying to keep things calm.
The ever-participating Minister soon found herself immersed in giving explanation to her critics about her stance on the whole matter. One Twitter user asked Zenebu what her opinion is about homosexuality to which she riposted, “I believe ‘respect’ in this matter should be a guiding principle.”
And then came the infamous tweet this last Monday, perhaps this time it came out as an out of line remark that had upset so many Ethiopians, yet rejoiced gay Ethiopians, who had been following the debate on social media.
“There’s no place for hate, discrimination in my beloved Africa. It’s not the governments’ business to make dress codes or anti-gay laws…”, tweeted Zenebu, condemning the ongoing anti-gay movement in Uganda.
Now, no matter how virtuous and a courageous remark that has sounded, it does not replace the fact that the Minister is in no position to argue the way she did when the administration she works for is not free from the very charges she’s pressing against on others. If anything, the chances of such actions being misinterpreted for a hypocrite is very likely than say, for a courageous or good-hearted activist. This is expected to severely tarnish her reputation and of the government, she represents.
Interestingly, the tweet on the following day seem to indicate that the Minister might have at last been mindful of this blunder, as she attempted to dampen the “gay rights” issue, at least for now. “Yesterday’s tweet,” she wrote, “is not about gay rights, it is against hate and discrimination. We must care for one another. This is our first priority.”
Even though this sounds more agreeable and convincing, it is very clear that the Minister would still have to confront the anti-gay laws in her own country too, if she wants to be taken at her word. Otherwise, her tweets will not be more than a lip service or worse, it will just be taken as a reckless move for a cheap political score.
Then it all got even more unsettling with the news of the Twitter account being hacked. We can never be sure if this is true or not, but if it’s a make-up story then what we can tell is this: the consequence of the slip-up in that single, seemingly insignificant tweet could cost (or is already costing) the government big time.
It’d not only be an issue of having an official who’s daredevil about a sensitive issue, but it’d equally be about an official whose act was a bit careless and could prove to be a liability to the government, sooner or later.
That’s why how things are unfolding mustn’t surprise us at all. But one thing is for sure and that is, gay Ethiopians have found their first ever gay-friendly official.. Hooray!