HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Tongai Matutu has bewed a riot by blaming and derogating the country’s victims of the deadly HIV virus, saying they worked hard to contract the disease and government should not waste money on them.
Matutu, a Masvingo legislator in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party, reportedly told delegates at the launch of the National Youth Policy Review on Monday that more cash should be put to support disabled persons than to people living with HIV. He blamed AIDS victims for promiscuous behaviour. “It takes a lot of effort for one to get infected by the virus,” Matutu told bemused guests. “We should instead consider supporting disabled people because they did not contribute in their getting disabled.”
The call to deny life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs shocked delegates at the one-day workshop organised to sensitive legislators on National Youth Policy where he firmly advocated the segregation of people living with the virus.
Delegates were more surprised when he vehemently opposed the distribution of ARVs to people living with HIV and Aids.
Several Zimbabweans were angered by Matutu’s remarks. Herbert Chikosi said, ” bhoti mava kupenga manje (Brother you are crazy now)I think you are missing the point consider a faithful wife ari kwaMaranda anoipihwa nemurume (in Maranda rural area who got infected by her promiscous husband)”
“You never know how some people are shallow minded and downright fools until they open their mouth,” said Amai Nox Nyangove.
“Zvenyu ndivofuti vanoramba varivo vaiti vazvo (people like him are the ones who infect others with HIV) I am schocked considreing that I viewed him semunhu (like a reasonable person) shuwa (its true) character is in speech,” said Herbert Chikosi.
“…zvinogwadza (its painfull) especialy from those who have gone up and down the ladder of education .Mr Justice ,You are no longer that because your mouth dishes out injustice.” said Chikosi.
Valentine Maponga a local journalist said, “Ndiko kunonzi kupenga kunyerere!!! (This is complete madness).”
Gift Phiri another Zimbabwean journalist fumed,”Gweta vaisva kutaura.Varashika apa. Zvandigwabvura mhani. Zvokwadi. (This lawyer has foul-mouthed here. He is so lost. This has angered me. Sure.”)
“This is shocking, from someone masquerading as a leader!!!” said Edinah Masanga.
Francis Chimuka Snr said, “I least expect such rubbish from Tongai. I thought he is a level headed gentleman. Now what is this, kungowonyoka kutaura (spitting out rubbish like that) as if he does not know zvirikuitwa ne Hiv pasi rese (what HIV is causing globally). Think before you bark. There are many innocent women, children and men who are infected or affected or both. Tongai is heartless and clueless as a leader.”
Zimbabwe, the troubled Southern African country is among the worst hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, killing more than 3,000 people every week and accounting for 70 per cent of hospital admissions. But Zimbabwe, in the grips of a deep recession, has also become one of the few AIDS bright spots on the continent after its HIV prevalence rate declined to 13 per cent last year from 25 per cent nine years ago.
The number of people requiring the life-prolonging medicines has increased to 570,000, yet only a third of this number is accessing the drugs. Zimbabwe’s drive to increase access to ARVs has been hampered by a severe shortage of foreign currency, itself a sign of an economic crisis that has also increased poverty datum levels.