Back to Index
tackle HIV and Aids
May 05, 2005
now Apostolic Faith Missions in Zimbabwe have been associated with
wayward beliefs and practices that fuel the spread of HIV and Aids.
Practices such as early marriages for young girls, polygamy, wife
inheritance and kuzvarira (marrying off young girls to old men,
even when they are still babies) have been attacked for their contribution
to the spread of HIV and AIDS.
as they are commonly known, have always been enmeshed in controversy
because of their church doctrines, which are viewed by AIDS activists
as dangerous in light of the current scourge.
churches, for example, do not allow their members to go to clinics
and hospitals or to use contraceptives. They also refuse their daughters
permission to go to school.
But, is all
this ever going to change? Are the "Vapositori" slowly realising
that some of their doctrines are working against them and that they
need to turn over a new leaf?
Last week I
attended a workshop organised by Futures Group's Zimbabwe Aids Policy
and Advocacy Project (ZAPA) for the Union for the Development of
Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (UDACIZA) in Harare and I came out
convinced the gathering is going to be the turning point for the
Apostolic Faith sect.
UDACIZA is made
of 70 Apostolic Faith sects that include Johanne Masowe, Johanne
Marange, Zvishamiso and Zviratidzo. The workshop brought together
more than 30 Apostolic Faith leaders, bishops and HIV and Aids co-ordinators
with the main objective of formulating an HIV and Aids policy for
UDACIZA, Bishop Revai Xavier Chitanda of Johanne Masowe told StandardHealth
that apostolic faith missions in Zimbabwe are heading for a "new
he was optimistic that a formulation of the HIV and Aids policy
for his members would result in behaviour change among members but
admitted "it would be no easy road".
"We are now
preaching to our members one-man one-wife, discouraging early marriage
for girls and also discouraging wife inheritance. We all know how
these practices are drawing us back in the fight against HIV and
AIDS," Chitanda said.
"In the AIDS
policy we are working on, we hope to first come up with a framework
which, as leaders of our churches, we will take to the people to
see their response. Maybe there will be things they want to change
or add, who knows? It is only after this exercise that we will develop
the final policy."
at the workshop, ZAPA senior HIV and AIDS policy specialist Godfrey
Tinarwo said engaging the Apostolic Faith among other denominations
is part of ZAPA's project to increase the participation of Faith
Based Organisations (FBOs) in HIV and Aids issues. Tinarwo said
the FBOs have the potential to "shift the tide" of the HIV and AIDS
scourge if given the chance and means.
of this ZAPA project is to enhance the capacity of FBOs by helping
them form HIV and Aids policies for their members," said Tinarwo.
subscribe to one or other FBO but networks have not been developed
to come up with comprehensive policies for members to assist them
in the Aids fight.
"FBOs can contribute
immensely towards behaviour-change. People respect their leaders
and are likely to be touched by their teachings in church. So these
leaders need to be empowered to spread the word about HIV and AIDS."
With more than
three million followers countrywide, the Apostolic Faith sect makes
up a large number of our population and there is therefore need
to engage them and make them realise how some of their doctrines
have fuelled the AIDS scourge.
ZAPA is also
working with denominations such as the Zimbabwe National Traditional
Healers' Association (ZINATHA), Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe,
Zion Church and Heads of Christian Denominations, which include
main stream churches such as the Roman Catholic, United Methodist
It is important
that non-governmental organisations involved in AIDS work realise
the potential that FBOs have to effect behaviour change. Churches
also have a moral obligation to society to break the silence about
sexuality issues and more importantly, about the AIDS scourge and
initiatives such as these by Futures International and ZAPA are
Apostolic sects such as Johanne Masowe have abolished polygamy.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.