HARARE – South African singer Kelly Khumalo made a last-minute cancellation of her appearance at a restaurant opening in Harare in solidarity with celebrity chef Somizi Mhlongo, who was dropped for being homosexual.

Khumalo had recorded a video confirming her expected appearance at the re-opening of Garwe Restaurant in Eastlea, Harare, before learning that she had been drafted in as a replacement for her friend, Mhlongo.

Khumalo was eventually a no-show, and guests at the event were told exactly why the Empini-hitmaker had decided to stay away.

“Unfortunately, Kelly can’t be with us tonight. She has opted to stand in solidarity with Somizi,” a spokesman for the eatery said.

The restaurant had closed doors in 2018 for extensive renovations, it is reported following a US$2 million capital injection.

Garwe owner Mandy Mvukwe-Chimhini is said to be a personal friend of Mhlongo, and had invited the former Idols judge and host of a celebrity cook-off show on South African TV.

Zanu PF’s youth league confirmed it had made direct contact with Mvukwe-Chimhini and demanded that she uninvites Mhlongo or face protests. A group of Apostolic churches also weighed in by writing a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa calling for Mhlongo to be barred, claiming that if he came to Zimbabwe that would result in immorality among children.

Garwe Restaurant, with a capacity for 200 diners, is famed for its signature traditional dishes.

Zimbabwe considers sex between men an “indecent act” punishable with a prison term and gay marriage is banned under the 2013 constitution. Zimlive