What is the best way to reduce HIV infection? A Zimbabwean Senator, a Mr Morgan Femai, says the solution to make women uglier by forcing them to shave their heads and stop taking baths. It’s not the only crass idea to be associated with Zimbabwe this week: would you believe that the United Nations has honoured that country’s leader, President Robert Mugabe, as a “leader of tourism”?
Some 14 percent of adult Zimbabweans are currently estimated to be HIV+, admittedly down from nearer 30 percent 10 years ago, but a frightening statistic nonetheless.
Senator Femai, a Senator for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was speaking to a parliamentary HIV awareness workshop in Zimbabwe’s
central city of Kadoma last Friday. “They [women] should also not bath because that is what has caused all these problems,” said Femai. If women dressed in shabby clothes and did not look attractive, he added, men would not want to have sex with them. He also proposed that Zimbabwean women should be circumcised.
In addition to being insensitive, tactless, obtuse, inane and ridiculous (yes, the Kenya Forum has been using a Thesaurus), Senator Femai’s remarks don’t exactly seem to exemplify democratic change.
The parliamentary workshop was sponsored by the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians against HIV (Zipah) supported by the National Aids Council, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the United Nations (UN).
The UN cannot, of course, be blamed for the ravings of one lunatic who happened to attend a workshop in part sponsored by them. They can, however, be held fully responsible for their own latest act of lunacy.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) has appointed Zimbabwe’s 88 year-old President Robert Mugabe as an international envoy for tourism and honoured him as a “leader for tourism”.
Zimbabwe boasts many attractions for tourists – Victoria Falls, the Hwange wildlife game reserve and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe to mention but three – but the economic and political collapse of the country brought on by Mugabe’s leadership has resulted in the country being one of least visited by tourists.
Quite how much international envoying ‘Uncle Bob’ will be doing is another matter, given that he is banned from travel by the international community for an array of little things like ethnic cleansing, vote rigging, beating up his opponents, crushing free speech, controlling the media and destroying Zimbabwe’s economy (including its tourism sector).
Then again, he won’t have to travel far to undertake his new duties as a UN tourism envoy. The UNWTO’s next general assembly will be hosted in August by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
UNWTO, it seem to the Forum, have already been off travelling, to another planet it seems if their honouring of Mugabe is anything to go by.