VARIOUS human rights groups have slammed self-proclaimed healer Patriarch Nyaude who appeared on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) TV on Monday, claiming albinism was a result of witchcraft.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/TAFADZWA MUTACHA
Nyaude claimed that a concoction made from a mixture of dried termites and soil from a pregnant woman’s footprint poured onto a termite mound, followed by some occult incantations turns the human embryo into an albino.
The remarks invited a backlash and by yesterday morning, ordinary Zimbabweans and civil society organisations were breathing fire over the utterances demanding corrective action from government.
“The ZBC TV acted irresponsibly when it aired on the night of December 10 a programme on healing and spirit medium in which one Patriarch Nyaude made outrageous and patently false claims that Albinism is caused by witchcraft,” Human Rights Watch Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga said.
“It is dangerous for ZBC TV to allow people like Nyaude to propagate their false claims because in countries like Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania people with albinism have been hunted down and killed or maimed for their body parts based on false beliefs that their body parts have healing powers and that their bones glow in the dark.
“A national broadcaster must not be used to perpetuate false and harmful beliefs. We urge the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to urgently intervene and have the ZBC put on air a proper medical expert to correct Nyaude’s falsehoods. If these falsehoods are not quickly corrected, they could lead to harm for children and people living with albinism.”
Mercy Maunganidze director of Zimbabwe Albino Association bemoaned lack of sensitive reporting by ZBC.
“That’s madness, they need psychiatric help. Albinism is a genetic condition that is hereditary from parents. People who say such things must be arrested because we have been trying to demystify these beliefs, but they continue to be perpetuated,” she said.
“The media should play a role in demystifying some of these beliefs, yet they are at the forefront spreading such information. Albinism is not found in humans only, but even in animals, so can that person also explain how the same witchcraft happens to animals. Imagine in areas where there is no access to information and children living with albinism are exposed to such information, what will happen to them? They will be traumatised.”
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) issued a statement demanding responsible airing of programmes from the national broadcaster and for it to guard against misinformation on medical conditions.
“We demand more responsible airing of programmes from the national broadcaster. The last thing we want is our population associating some spirituality or witchcraft with genetic disorders, not to even mention the stigma that will arise from such reporting. These beliefs and myths stem from misinformation and lies that are systematically pedaled to target one specific community, and it is very unfortunate that the national broadcaster decided to air such views without a counter narrative from medical experts,” said ZADHR in a statement.
The human rights doctors urged the national broadcaster and the Ministry of Information to issue a statement denouncing Nyaude’s claims.
Zimbabwe Peace Project said Nyaude’s views promote hate and perpetuate stereotyping of people with disability in violation of the Constitution.
“The utterances by Nyaude buttress the mistaken belief that albinism is a result of evil spirits which has resulted in persons with albinism being rejected, discriminated against or killed for ritual purposes.”