With Zimbabwe still grappling with cases of early marriages, rape, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) against women and young girls, politicians have found it difficult to speak out against the vices.
There is a perception that cases of child marriages and GBV are rife among Apostolic sects that are dominant in provinces such as Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland East and West.
For the ruling ZANU PF party, speaking against the excesses of the apostolic sects, especially the Johanne Marange Sect will lead to a haemorrhage of votes, at least according to Gutu East MP, Berita Chikwama.
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Speaking to Members of Parliament’s breakfast meeting that was organised by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in Harare recently, Chikwama said:
Where we come from, we have these numerous apostolic sects and they are very dominant religions. It is from these apostolic sects where we have more cases of early child marriages and SGBV occurring.
For us politicians, at times our hands are tied, we can’t say certain things to them because this is where we get our votes. I am saying the truth here.
We have made efforts so far and I would say they have accepted that we ensure their children at least get birth certificates during their church gatherings.
Chikwama exhorted Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to conscientise these apostolic sects against early marriages and SGBV as the subject is a hot potato for politicians.