Zimbabwe´s education minister Mr. Jonathan Moyo who is involved in a nasty power struggle with the country´s vice-president (Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa) has suggested that Zimbabwe´s deputy president may have suffered diarrhoea due to ARVs use. ARV is standard medication used worldwide to treat people living with HIV.
Mr. Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwe´s deputy president, fell ill two months ago at a youth rally in Gwanda (a southern town near the border with South Africa). He vomited and also suffered severe diarrhoea.
The vice president was airlifted to neighbouring South Africa after his condition became alarming.
Mr. Moyo the education minister attacked Mr. Munangagwa (country´s vice president) following a recent funeral memorial service where Mr. Munangagwa informed the audience that his illness could have been a result of swallowing food poison.
But writing on Twitter yesterday morning, Mr. Moyo furiously shot down the vice-president: “The lot on my Twitter timeline with crap about poison and food poison must note that chronic use of antibiotics or ARVs also induces vomiting and diarrhoea!”
Mr. Moyo HIV stigma vitriolic statement did not go well with ordinary Zimbabweans some of whom went to the extent of attacking Mr. Moyo’s family members.
One Andrew Maimba, a prominent Twitter user, attacked Mr. Moyo directly on his Twitter handle. “Are you aware your daughter at IDBZ Bank collects her ARV medicine at a Newlands clinic?” he said seeming to indicate that the minister´s own daughter suffers from HIV.
Zimbabwe´s most known HIV activist Ms. Martha Tholanah said she never expected the minister to insult those living with HIV and AIDS in that manner.
“We all know Minister Moyo is vile and the only known uncouth Professor in the entire universe,” she posted on her Facebook page.
“Weaponising HIV on political rivals is the least we expected from him.
“Now that he has just been told on Twitter that his daughter collects ARVs at Newlands clinic, in the capital Harare; it looks like he has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Even his loyalists have turned on him.”
An independent lawmaker, one Mr. Temba Mliswa, also jumped into the disgraceful fray and speculated about the minister´s sexuality.
“ARVs are not poison they can treat people who are living with HIV. What is used to treat homosexuals,” said Mr. Mliswa to the minister.
A human rights lawyer in the capital Harare, Mr. Tinashe Mundawarara said coming from such a high ranking government official such comments invariably reverse the gains made by multi-stakeholders in combating Zimbabwe´s high HIV infection rate.
“It is sad that in this day and age, we have policy makers like Minister Moyo who continue to pull in the opposite direction of science, policy and common sense in favour of pedestrian narrative of political expediency divorced from solving the problems affecting ordinary Zimbabweans,” said Mundawarara.
One livid Twitter user Patricia Masuka posted, “Unforgivable. I am reeling from such irresponsible utterances by our leaders. It’s against everything I learnt while working for an Aids Service Organisation.”
According to the UNAIDS measurements, Zimbabwe has one of the largest HIV epidemics in the world, with an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 15% and 1.4 million people living with HIV. Stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV in Zimbabwe remains a big issue. One study found that 65% of people living with HIV had experienced it. Findings on stigma and discrimination from Zimbabwe Demographic Human Survey (ZDHS) in 2015 are yet to be published. The same ZDHS 2010-11 found that, although people showed more accepting attitudes towards family members with HIV, they continued to show discriminatory attitudes towards shopkeepers or teachers who had HIV infection.
Mr.Moyo is widely rumuored to be the strategist behind Generation 40 (G40), a coalition of young politicians angling to win power when Zimbabwe´s 93year president (Mr. Robert Mugabe) retires. Mr. Munangagwa the country´s vice president is said to front “Lacoste” a faction bitterly opposed to G40.
(Picture caption: Mr. Jonathan Moyo, Zimbabwe´s education minister)
(Picture editor: WTR editors)
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