AIDS Organisations Threaten No Vote Campaign

Participants to a meeting of AIDS service organisations on Tuesday said they wanted rights to access HIV&AIDS treatment and access to health services or they would join the NCA in the no vote campaign.

A parliamentary led constitutional process (COPAC) is currently gathering views from the public on what the people want to be included in the new constitution. The process, which started last week is expected to take 83 days before the draft constitution is taken for a referendum.

The meeting was attended by more than 15 representatives of AIDS services from around the country.

“If our issues are not  captured  by the COPAC we are definitely going to call for a  No vote come  referendum time. HIV&AIDS issues  are  being ignored and  yet everyone is being  affected  in one way  or the other,” said  a  member  of one of the organisations representing People Living with AIDS.

Community Working Group on Health Programme manager Caroline Mubaira told the  gathering: “We are waiting for  such  time  when  the COPAC team  finishes gathering people’s  views and see if  HIV&AIDS as well as health issues are well captured. If they are not  well articulated in the document, us as a membership organisation we will go back to our constituency and consult for the way forward  because we  know that  health  issues are national  issues, which need not to be excluded  in the new  constitution.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’ HIV&AIDS Human rights programmes officer Bekizela Mapanda said they were closely monitoring the of HIV and AIDS issues by COPAC outreach teams.

“Our duty at the moment is that of monitoring the process and see whether there is democracy in terms of the inclusion of  rights to health on  behalf of people  living with the pandemic. When the drafting of the actual constitution comes we will engage with our stakeholders and  they will decide on the action to take  depending on the outcome  of the draft constitution.”

Meanwhiule chaos continued to characterise COPAC outreach teams with reports that co-chairpersons had ordered outreach teams to look for alternative accommodation after most of the teams had been evicted from Harare and Mutare hotels for failing to settle bills.

The two COPAC chairpersons Paul Mangwana of Zanu (PF) and Douglas Mwonzora of MDC-T admitted on Tuesday to  journalists that outreach teams  in Mutare and Harare were  being  chased away  from hotels as a result  of COPAC’s failure to  pay  hotel  bills.

The teams were also not getting food from the hotels.

“We have instructed  our  teams to look  for  alternative accommodation which is cheaper because most of the  hotels like Jameson and Crown Plaza which they are currently using  are  charging above US$60, which is beyond our budget,” said Mangwana.

Mwonzora said“The reason why we  have accommodated those teams operating  in Mashonaland central in Harare is that  we could  not find  suitable  accommodation for them in that area, and at some point we were told  that  some  of the suitable  hotels  were booked up to September and we had  no  choice  but  to accommodate  them in Harare”.