Bulawayo city councillors, on Tuesday fumed over media reports that the city had become the country’s HIV hotspot, saying the claims were false and likely to scare away potential investors.
BY KHANYILE MLOTSHWA
According to a Zimbabwe Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment report, the Matabeleland region had the highest figures of new HIV infections, with Matabeleland South at 22,3%, Matabeleland North at 20,1% and Bulawayo’s prevalence rate at 18,7%.
Ward 9 councillor, Charles Moyo introduced the topic for debate at the full council meeting.
“The media says Bulawayo is the HIV hotspot,” he said.
“The story ended up identifying target groups, groups that are mostly affected by HIV infections. I think the department and the committee should do something about this so that the City of Bulawayo can stem the tide. This portrays a bad image of the City of Bulawayo.”
Ward 1 councillor, Mlandu Ncube, chipped in, dismissing the report as part of a conspiracy to portray the city in bad light.
“Let’s all be honest today, that newspaper was bought a lot because people are concerned,” he said. “It’s not that I am against any plans for escalating health promotion as alluded to by the previous speaker.
“But let us be honest, this (such reports) is the work of the enemies of this city. They come here for census and under-count us. And then they come and say we are leading in terms of HIV.
“There are places that we know in this country, where even by observing, you can tell that there is just too much HIV here; but they come and say Bulawayo is a hotspot.
“That report is just an exaggeration meant to undermine the City of Bulawayo. We are asking those, who are doing the statistics, to do proper work and not smear campaigns. We are a city with a lot of clinics and people get advice daily on proper sexual behaviour.”
Ward 23 councillor, Thobani Ncube also felt that the HIV statistics were cooked up to serve a political agenda.
“We have to respect each other. Let us not try to push politics at all costs,” he said.
“That (statistics) was a political statement. All we are asking for is that our fellow comrades in the region should respect us and this city.
“It is embarrassing that they can even mention Bulawayo ahead of Mpandawana. I am not happy about this, and I doubt that other councillors are happy.”