Mugabe cabinet affected by HIV


Six ministers in Zimbabwe's 22-member cabinet are receiving treatment for HIV, a weekly newspaper reported yesterday. In a front-page report, the Financial Gazette said six of President Robert Mugabe's ministers are receiving free anti-retroviral treatment from a local AIDS organisation.

A regime of anti-retroviral drugs is prescribed for people living with the HIV virus.

Mr Frank Guni, the director of Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS, confirmed that the six ministers were among 500 people receiving treatment, but would not divulge their names.

Last year, Mr Mugabe said at least three of his cabinet ministers and several traditional leaders have died from AIDS-related illnesses in recent years.

An estimated 2,000 Zimbabweans die from AIDS-related illnesses each week, and one in four adults are thought to be HIV positive.

In a separate development, the paper reported that Mr Guni had gone into hiding after receiving bomb threats for disbursing free AIDS drugs he secured overseas.

The callers accused Mr Guni of campaigning for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) when he distributed drugs to HIV support groups in central Zimbabwe at the weekend.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Zimbabwean government would jail or fine people who move about without identity cards under a proposed law.

In a statement published in the official Herald newspaper yesterday, the government said it had approved amendments to the National Registration Act and the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act to make it mandatory for people to carry either a national ID card, a passport or a driver's licence.