The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: MPs Prepared to Lead HIV/Aids Campaign

Members of Parliament have expressed their commitment to seeking ways to curb the rate of HIV infections in the country. In an interview during a convention of people living with HIV and Aids, activists and Members of Parliament in Harare recently, chairman of the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV and Aids and Kwekwe Central MP Blessing Chebundo said MPs were prepared to lead the campaign against HIV and Aids.

"After realising the significance of the role of elected Members of Parliament in the fight against HIV, we decided to formulate a plan so we can walk the talk.

"This is a non-profit and non-political move and we do not see any Zanu-PF and or an MDC party member in our organisation. We happen to be like-minded members championing the same cause," he said.

MP Chebundo said their intention was not to concentrate on fighting the disease from a national level but to cascade downwards to the grass roots.

"There are 2 000 councillors and 276 chiefs in our country so we want to take advantage of this large group to raise awareness.

He said parliamentarians were in the middle of drafting a document to map the way forward.

"This document will be of use even if some MPs fail to make it in the next general elections," he said.

NAC communications director Ms Medelina Dube said her organisation was ready to work with political leaders since they had a strong influence on communities.

"They have a voice in the society, they are motivators so they feel it's their responsibility to respond to HIV issues and their desire is to see the elimination of this epidemic," said Ms Dube.

Ms Dube said legislators should deliberate on critical matters as these had an impact on the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

UN's Aids country co-ordinator Ms Tatiana Shaumilina pledged to support the initiative.

"The major purpose is to support the country in making people's lives better and healthier in preventing new infections and providing knowledge," said Ms Shaumilina.

Twenty-four MPs and chiefs attended the five-day workshop.

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