HARARE – Business came to a standstill yesterday at National Aids Council (Nac) offices as close to a 100 members of Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV/Aids (ZNNP+) staged a demonstration.
But they received a hostile reception from Nac director for communication Madeline Dube who told them they were not special.
Nac officials were forced to lock gates as people living with HIV (PLHIV) descended on the organisation’s office, accusing officials of squandering Aids levies paid by taxpayers. They said Nac officials were sacrificing the infected people to line their pockets.
The protestors held placards reading: “Invest in ARVs not stock markets”, and “Where is Aids Levy going?”
“We have not been getting any cotrimoxazole from government for the past year but we always hear you (Nac) telling lies that we are getting adequate drugs,” shouted one man.
“You have been giving us cotrimoxazole meant for children, can you tell us how the children will survive when we take their medicine?” queried a woman in the crowd.
According to the angry protestors, they take eight tablets of cotrimoxazole prescribed for children instead of the normal four.
ZNNP+ Harare advocacy team chairperson Joao Zanagroti said Nac was squandering huge amounts in unjustified administration costs.
He alleged the levy administrator was consuming 40 percent of funds from National Aids Trust Fund on administration and sending bloated delegations to international conferences.
Over $70 000 is said to have been spent on seven Nac officials who attended an HIV conference in the United States while employees got $3 000 loans from the same pocket.
“We (PLHIV) say the Aids Levy is a national resource fund contributed to by all working people. We cannot afford another Aids scandal,” declared Zanagroti in a letter addressed to stakeholders.
He vowed his organisation would continue protesting until government provided adequate supplies to HIV patients.
“We will become an immense well of anger that will occupy the streets should there be further
delays in responding to our needs,” he said.
Dube’s speech triggered insults from the demonstrators, who described her as “arrogant and well-fed”.
Said Dube while addressing the protestors: “There is no one who does not know that there is Aids in Zimbabwe. You should also remember that you are infected and we are also affected. Hapana munhu asina nhoroondo (There is noone without a history).” – Wendy Muperi