The Times of Zambia, 23 November 2002, 'Cage HIV Victims Not State Policy'

Zambia (Ndola) - HEALTH Minister Brian Chituwo says the remarks by Luapula Province Minister Alex Chama about isolating HIV/AIDS victims is not Government policy.

Giving a ministerial statement in Parliament yesterday Dr Chituwo said Mr Chama’s remarks had been spurred by his personal encounter with two prostitutes who boasted to him that they would continue to engage in unprotected sex.

'Mr Speaker, as parents you can understand that the circumstances were frustrating but it is a pity the deputy minister did not make it clear at the time,' Dr Chituwo said.

He said after Mr Chama explained what he meant, he felt it prudent to give a ministerial statement in the House.

He said Mr Chama's remarks made during debate on the national HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council Bill on November 13 was not only contrary to Government policy but the tenets of human rights.

Government policy was not to stigmatise people with HIV and that they would continue to enjoy all rights hence the bill.

Solwezi Central MP Benny Tetamashimba (UPND) said it was good that Dr Chituwo had clarified the matter otherwise he would have recommended a new law forcing all prospective MPs to undergo HIV tests before filing nominations.

'So that all Lozis except the chair who are promiscuous are examined, he said but Dr Chituwo said it was wrong to assume all HIV people were promiscuous.

And opposition members from UPND Patrick Kangwa (Solwezi West), Cris pin Sibetta (Luena) and Maxwell Mukwakwa (Zambezi East) wondered what would happen to the deputy minister with some demanding that he publicly apologises to the nation so that the remarks can be deleted from Parliament records.

But Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa, who carpeted the front bench for differing on policy issues, said it was unnecessary since the minister of Health had corrected the misunderstanding.

Lusaka Central MP Dipak Patel asked the Speaker to intervene in the excessive contradictions between cabinet and deputy ministers saying Mr Chama's case was typical example of contradiction in Government policy.

Mr Mwanamwambwa said although 70 per cent of the members in Parliament were new, it should be noted that the front and middle bench had collective responsibility both inside and outside the House.

'No one has a personal opinion on Government policy. It is actually an offence to contradict each other. Learn to coordinate,' he said.