Sham marriage exposes Tsvangirai
By Gift Phiri
HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s addresses at political rallies
and HIV/Aids conferences are often marked by the now famous refrain: “Kana
muchiridza ngoma yeZion pfekai gemenzi”.
Loosely translated, this Shona expression is an exhortation to Zimbabweans
to always practice safe sex and to always protect themselves when in
But developments surrounding the PM’s recent escapades, including his
disputed “marriage” to a Harare businesswoman that he apparently impregnated
out of wedlock, have sullied the character of the man and his well-meant
public pronouncements — at least in the eyes of Aids activists and ordinary
people who were taking his safe sex campaign seriously.
While preaching the much-needed gospel of safe sex has been easy for the
widowed PM, putting this message into practice in his own life is proving
much harder for the popular former trade unionist, opening himbto criticism
from political opponents and activists that he is undermining government’s
safe sex campaign.
Last week the PM, who has been linked to a string of women since his wife
died in 2009, was apparently “forced to pay compensation” to the family of a
woman, Locadia Tembo, who is believed to be carrying his twins.
Tembo’s family insists that the cash the PM paid to them was lobola, the
term used for bride price.
His officials, on the other hand, deny that the PM married Locadia. They say
the money was just for “damages”, the crude word used to refer to
compensation paid by a man who impregnates a woman out of wedlock.
But what is sullying the MDC leader’s reputation is the fact that he is
practicing unprotected sex in short-term relationships. HIV/Aids prevention
campaigners are seething.
Some, like activist Simba Nyamukondiwa, think Tsvangirai owes the nation an
apology — if he is to redeem his standing.
“The PM’s reckless behaviour has profound public consequences and he needs
to apologise to the nation for having unprotected sex. He needs to pledge to
change his ways to bolster government’s safe sex campaign.
“When you tell people to use condoms — and he is fond of saying this at his
rallies — he should lead by example. If you tell the nation to use condoms,
you also must do it. This is so wrong at so many levels,” he said.
Jameson Timba, a close Tsvangirai ally who works as the PM’s Minister of
State, refused to comment.
Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka also backed away from commenting
when approached by the Daily News on Sunday.
“I would not want to comment on that matter,” was all Tamborinyoka could
Hope for Women Survivors, a group representing women who have suffered
various forms of injustices, including physical abuse, HIV/Aids, poverty and
political violence, described the PM’s behaviour as “appalling”.
“If these cases are true then it falls under the category of women abuse as
far as we are concerned and we don’t expect our leaders to be abusing women
and treating them like garbage. This is about women abuse by some men and in
this case the man happens to be our PM,” the group said in a Facebook
Blessing Vava, a social activist and spokesman for constitutional reform
campaign group National Constitutional Assembly, said: “If it is indeed true
that Locadia is carrying the PM’s twins, it is unfortunate that both were
indulging in sex before marriage which is against our norms and cultural
“Abstinence and protected sex are vital in curbing the spread of HIV and we
expect people of his stature to be aware of those basic issues. For them to
go ahead and have unprotected sex, worse still before marriage, sends a
wrong signal. We do hope that they got tested before they indulged,” he
Institutions such as the World Health Organisation say unprotected sex is a
leading contributor to the transmission of HIV/Aids.
Although the HIV/Aids prevalence rate in Zimbabwe is gradually decreasing,
from 16 percent of the population in 2007 to 13 percent in 2010, campaigners
say more needs to be done to reduce the figures even further.
Political will, they say, is also key in these efforts — hence the current
spotlight on the PM.
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