National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda has said Zimbabweans are “too shy” to talk about the high rate of homosexuality in the country’s prisons, which are overcrowded and a breeding ground for diseases like tuberculosis.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Speaking at the launch of the Parliamentary caucus on tuberculosis, Mudenda said homosexuality should be mentioned more often, as he called for an overhaul of the prison system, which is currently not in line with constitutional provisions.
“We should instead be thinking along the lines of an open prison system like the one at Connemara, which allows for development of skills,” he said.
Mudenda said it was prudent to change prisoners’ mindsets.
“That (overcrowding) is not proper in terms of the Constitution. The prison system must change,” he said.
Mudenda pleaded with development partners to provide funding to fight TB, which continues to be a huge burden for Zimbabwe’s health sector.
“I’m pleading with you (development partners) to give us money to set up high-tech mobile clinics, which will be instrumental in testing people for various diseases,” he said.
Mudenda said the budget should be stout enough to drive the campaign and the Health ministry would be mandated to evaluate progress.
He said diseases like TB and HIV and Aids had no political boundaries and, therefore, should be prioritised by everyone regardless of political affiliation.
The Speaker challenged MPs to influence a “robust legislative” framework that would create a conducive environment to fight TB.
“Section 149 of the Constitution allows stakeholders to call for the amendment of an Act,” Mudenda said.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health chairperson, Ruth Labode said the current Public Health Act does not articulate the issue of TB.
“We need legislation that is clear and concise,” she said.
Labode said the passion and attention that was accorded HIV and Aids should also extend to TB.
“As parliamentarians, we need to go back to our constituencies and raise more awareness and advocate for more funding for the Health ministry,” she said.
Health minister David Parirenyatwa said TB was a serious public health problem in the country, with high morbidity and mortality rates.
“By launching the caucus, the country is now able to become part of the Global TB Caucus and hold governments accountable,” he said.