Shangani villagers in Chiredzi have shut out all health partners from taking part in this year’s circumcision ceremony which started on Sunday, citing intrusion into their culture.
The end of the nine-year relationship was revealed last week by the Chiredzi acting district medical officer, David Tarumbwa.
“We used to work together in harmony with the Shanganis, but when we sent our team this week to help them as usual, they were turned away,” Tarumbwa said.
“In fact, this year they approached us and the district administrator’s office in preparation of their ceremony, which is usually held in July and August. But out of the blues, we heard our team was turned away. We do not know how many are in the camps, but usually there will be thousands. It is highly likely that fatalities might be kept under wraps.
“Our team of three nurses is from the Shangani community, who have been circumcised and have all the experience and expertise. We are not aware why they refused to have them this time around. We are now suspecting that it is an issue of money than tradition because as the ministry and other partners, we were offering the service for free, but we are told that the old men who are carrying out the circumcision are paid.”
Chief Tshovani, born Hlaisi Mundau, however accused health partners of stealing, disrespecting their culture and disclosing their closely-guarded secrets during initiation ceremonies.
“There is nothing bad with us shutting health partners out because we have been threatening to stop working with them for a long time. Our circumcision practice is full of closely-guided secrets, but when what we do during initiation is revealed, we feel our culture is being compromised,” Chief Tshovani said.
“We are now working with the Varembas from Mberengwa, who understand our culture. In so doing, we will be able to preserve our culture. From now on, we have resolved to do our things without outside interference. The boys are going to come out of the camp a week before schools open, and we are sure there will be no fatalities because they are in capable hands.”
At one time, headman Mupapa said Population Services International should not be involved in designing messages for the circumcision ceremony as some of the banners designed by the organisation revealed their most guarded secrets.
After it was discovered that circumcision reduces HIV infection by 60%, Zimbabwe embarked on a drive to circumcise men under the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme since 2009, targeting to circumcise a million men between the ages of 13 to 29 years.