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'Apostolic sect not spared from Aids scourge'
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
May 04, 2005

FUTURES Group's Zimbabwe Aids Policy and Advocacy Project (ZAPA) is working with the apostolic faith sect for behaviour change in the face of HIV and Aids scourge.

At a workshop attended by members of Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe (Udaciza) in Harare yesterday, the president of Udaciza, Bhisop Xavier Chitanda, said the apostolic faith sect was not excluded from the effects of HIV and Aids.

Bishop Chitanda said it was this realisation that made members of different apostolic faith sects to come together and form a union.

Most members of the sect are well known for practices such as polygamy, giving in under-age girls to old men and wife inheritance.

Such practices expose people to the HIV and Aids scourge.

"There are some of our practices that we would like to change, practices such polygamy and the inheriting of wives add to the spread of the disease and we have seen the necessity to change such practices," he said.

He also said they would encourage young couples to go for HIV testing before marriage and ensure that girls do not marry before they are 18 years old. He said although the change of practices has not been well received by some of their members, they hoped to reach a compromise and form "meaningful" policies that would help them in fighting HIV and Aids.

The union is made of 70 apostolic sects, including Johanne Masowe, Zviratidzo Zvemapostori, Calvery and Zvishamiso.

ZAPA programme manager Mrs Edith Maziofa said the workshop was an HIV and Aids policy consultative meeting, expected to help the apostolic sect in coming up with church policies that would help to stop the spread of HIV and Aids.

"The workshop is to familiarise and assist the union of Zionists and Apostolic faith churches in developing an HIV and Aids policy," she said

She said there was need to educate the sect, which has over three million followers countrywide. Some of the workshop's objectives, she said, were to enable apostolic church leaders to come up with a policy that would enable Udaciza to work effectively with other HIV and Aids service organisations and to come up with a framework within which churches could develop their plan of action and activities.

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