Zanu PF national spokesperson Rugare Gumbo dismissed reports the estimated 6 000 delegates attending the party’s conference in Bulawayo next month would be asked to undergo HIV tests.
According to an online publication, Tirinani Mafuwa, the Zanu PF provincial health secretary for Bulawayo said delegates to the party’s 12th national people’s conference scheduled for December 6-10 would undergo voluntary tests to “de-stigmatise HIV and encourage people to know their status”.
Mafuwa reportedly said the party had mobilised 50 professional testers and counsellors from the United Bulawayo Hospitals who were expected to set up a mobile facility at the conference venue, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
But Gumbo said: “No, we haven’t reached that decision. We are yet to sit down and discuss what will be done.”
Health campaigners say early testing can save millions of lives as it allows those who test positive for HIV to immediately go on life-saving drugs.
Meanwhile, Gumbo said preparations for the conference were running smoothly despite earlier reports that the MDC-T-dominated Bulawayo City Council had denied Zanu PF permission to use its facilities at the ZITF grounds.
Gumbo said his party had secured alternative space from other organisations with facilities at the ZITF.
“The Bulawayo City Council has only one pavilion office from the many that are here. When the provincial party leaders approached them to use their facilities they refused,” he said.
President Robert Mugabe has declared that the conference will be a “mini congress” but officials have since clarified that there would be no elections.
The provinces have started scrambling to endorse the veteran ruler as the party’s presidential candidate for elections expected next year.