“Something is rotten in the State of Zimbabwe”

“Something is rotten in the state of Zimbabwe”
If discussions on the two hour long Sunday morning programme aired on Radio Zimbabwe weekly are a reflection of Zimbabwe as a nation, then stealing a point from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. In this case, something is very rotten in the state of Zimbabwe and the stink of this rot is reaching the highest of heaven and our prayer is that God will soon send his angels to clean it up or burn whatever is rotting once and for all.
The programme called Ezempilo/Zviri muhupenyu (About Life) discusses and offers solutions to day to day social problems and is produced and presented by a well known broadcaster in Zimbabwean local media circles Matilda Moyo. Three weeks ago Moyo introduced a topic to discuss the reasons that drive people away from churches. A great number of callers complained of being sexually harassed by so called prophets at what are widely known as White garment churches. At these churches men are said to have dreams and see visions of women whom they are instructed to take as their wives after they make this known to the leaders of the sect. It is the rule of the church they say.
It is bad enough that female members of these churches are being abused and left at the mercy of these sexual predators disguised as men of God, but even more shocking is the fact that some of the “women” that are unlucky enough to be “dreamt” of by the male members their churches are as young as 13 years of age and are being married to men as old as 50 years of age. Honestly how in this day and age does a government listen to this programme on national radio for three weeks in a row and not take action on this serious injustice to our young people.
On the one hand government and NGOs are pouring millions worth of resources towards HIV/AIDS prevention and control, on the other government, community leaders, churches, civic society etc sit back and watch as conditions for the spread of this disease become even more pronounced. Subsequent weeks on the programme discussed at length practices at these white garment churches with many men confessing that they had more than one wife, as many as 15 for some with the youngest being 13 years of age. The sad reality is that there is no limit to the number of wives a man can have as long as he continues to have these “dreams”.
These men claim to have paid dowry (ilobolo/roora) for these girls meaning they had the full consent of the girls’ parents. What was also clear from the discussions was that while the men were content with their daughters being married off at such a tender age, many of the women were fearfully helpless in the situation. When asked why they were giving their children away so early, many of them just responded by saying “Mutemo weChurch” (It is the rule of the church).
“I got married at the age of 13, at first I did not understand why but in the end I accepted my fate. There is nothing I can do because these are the rules of the church and if I do not comply they will cast me out,” aid a woman who has been in one of these polygamous marriages for the last 11 years.
NYDT seriously condemns the continued child sexual abuse at these places of religion and seriously calls on the government to take active steps to bring to book all those that are benefitting from this gross injustice. It is illegal in Zimbabwe for anyone below the age of 16 to be in a sexual relationship, why then are these people being allowed to abuse the law and young people in full view of the society.
This is indeed a rot at the core of the soul of the nation because a country’s youths are its soul. They are the pulse of that nation, the sign of what it has gone through and what it aspires towards. They mirror the kind of leaders a nation has in the spheres of family, community, nationally. If our land is full of 13year old pregnant school drop outs, many of them living with or under the threat of contracting HIV/AIDS, what does this then say about our leaders? We call upon all relevant stakeholders, parents, the police Childline, Girl child network, churches, schools, community leaders, our national leaders every concerned citizen to help stop this disgusting practice now. Lets give our young people their fullest right to childhood, the right to education and personal development the right to choose who and when they want to marry, otherwise history will judge us harshly.

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