Zimbabwe’s traditional chiefs have backed a recent decision by local Apostolic and Zionist churches to ban polygamy to counter the spread of HIV/AIDS, which kills 2,000 people every week in this southern African country of 12.7 million people.
“The ban will certainly work in that the figures of new HIV infections will be reduced with time,” said Chief Fortune Charumbira, president of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs.
Health practitioners have long asserted that polygamy fuels the spread of HIV and AIDS and adherents of traditional churches are among those who have helped keep polygamy going. University of Zimbabwe professor Marvellous Mhloyi said halting polygamous marriages would cut the spread of the pandemic.
Pastor Emmanuel Singano from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe noted that the Apostolic and Zionist churches had been dodging the biblical truth that a man should have only one wife.
“This is also going to reduce the spread of the devastating HIV and AIDS because you can see that if a man has got five wives and one gets infected, that means all the remaining four also risk being infected,” Mr. Singano said.
Apostolic and Zionist churches have about 2.5 million followers in about 70 denominations in Zimbabwe. They follow Christian traditions, but their teachings and practices are strongly based on local indigenous culture and customs.