Anointed condoms a no-no in Zimbabwe

2015-12-07 10:16
Condoms. (File, iStock)

Condoms. (File, iStock)

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Zimbabwe - After cooking oil, holy water and pens that guarantee you'll get through your exams, some Zimbabweans are keen to get their hands on yet another "anointed" item: condoms.

A controversial church leader from Harare has been asked to stop anointing condoms because it was "misleading" the public, it was reported on Friday.

Women are reported to have stampeded to get their hands on a box of specially prayed-for condoms at one of pastor Paul Sanyangore's church services recently.

But while the other "holy" merchandise is seen largely as harmless by sceptics, anointed condoms are worrying campaigners in a region where HIV rates are high and misconceptions about Aids are still rife.

'Stop praying for the condoms'

Delegates at the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA), which ended on Friday, said Sanyangore's actions were misleading, according to website Newzimbabwe.com.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) senior HIV technical advisor Bidia Deperthes was quoted by the private Newsday as saying: “Please stop praying for the condoms, it misinforms the public and is totally against science.”

But Sanyangore, 30, defended his stance, maintaining he only "blessed" the condoms after being asked to do so by a woman whose husband had been apart from her for some time, Newsday reported.

Rich prophets

Condoms are a topical subject in Zimbabwe at the moment after the UNFPA - in conjunction with President Robert Mugabe's government - last week started distributing "small-size" condoms especially for teenagers.

Government officials insisted they did not want to promote teenage sex but wanted to "attract" people to use condoms if they were having sex, according to a report in the official Herald newspaper last week.

Fed up after years of broken promises from political leaders, tens of thousands of Zimbabweans now follow a number of prominent self-styled "prophets", who tend to be extremely rich.

One of them, Walter Magaya, was recently named the most influential Zimbabwean under 40 by widely-followed website mafaro.co.uk.

Meanwhile, a grouping of church leaders in Zimbabwe has issued a statement calling on Mugabe's government to take steps to "reduce poverty" and improve the country's economy.

"We believe the need for a national vision, political tolerance, the implementation of the constitution and addressing economic challenges are of crucial importance in 2016," the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations said on Friday.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  hiv aids  |  southern africa

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