Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) have called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to relief deputy finance Minister Terrence Mukupe of his duties as cabinet minster following his recent remarks where he mocked people on Anti Retro Viral Therapy (ART).
In a joint statement by community of people living with HIV and civil society coalitions, they said Mukupe’s utterances display a total lack of the understanding of the over 1.4 million people living with HIV in the country.
“The community of people living with HIV and civil society coalitions are dismayed by the extremely stigmatising
and discriminatory comments on anti-retroviral medicine (ARVs) made by the Honourable Deputy Minister of
Finance and Economic Development. Mr. Terence Mukupe on Star FM on the 23rd of May 2018.
“Such statements are not only reckless but also display a total lack of the understanding of the over 1.4 million people living with HIV in the country. As a community of people living with HIV we condemn such utterances in the strongest terms possible,” said the statement.
They added that various stakeholders in the national response to HIV and AIDS have over many years worked tirelessly to address societal stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS.
“Considerable gains have been made in this area. Discriminatory comments and remarks only serve to reverse these gains and ultimately cause further stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.
“The comments also have the potential of causing people on anti-retroviral treatment to default on their treatment
programme in fear of being discriminated. This may potentially be catastrophic considering that currently there are
over a million people living with HIV on treatment in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, according to the UNAIDS global campaign on zero discrimination of people living with HIV, no one should be discriminated against because of their HIV status whether real or perceived.
People living with HIV expect that holders of such high offices to be champions of the HIV anti-stigma and
discrimination movement and not promoters of stigma and discrimination.
“We urge His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Mr. Emmerson D. Mnanganwa to consider recalling the minister as he has failed to represent the new dispensation’s position which has been supportive of people living with HIV.
“We also demand a full apology from the Honourable deputy minister on the same radio show that he made these highly discriminatory remarks. Lastly, in light of the latest retrogressive statements from a leader within government, we urge that the president consider putting in place a policy that protects people living with HIV particularly women and girls against stigma and discrimination by office bearers.”