RESIDENTS of Mpopoma in Bulawayo will tomorrow stage a protest walk against nightclub and sports bar owners, who they accuse of being responsible for high sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the suburb.
The residents claim bars and nightclubs promote delinquency among the youth, which has seen people as young as 13 being infected with STIs.
The protest walk is set to start from Esibayeni, known as mini Redwood, passing through Goveya, then Kongo, before it proceeds to Mayihlome, Mathonisa and will end at Patapata.
Violet Tshabalala, a ward residents’ chairperson, said they had a meeting with the prevention task force from National Aids Council focusing on HIV and Aids and agreed there was need to meet the owners of the businesses and discuss the way forward.
Tshabalala said they wrote a letter to business owners, but did not get a response, adding that residents went on to hold several meetings, where the entrepreneurs were invited, but never showed up.
“We are committed to reducing the current accelerated rates of STIs, but these businesspeople have failed to reason with residents, so we thought it best to demonstrate so that our plight would be heard and taken into consideration,” she said.
Tshabalala said their hope was to discuss a way forward and it would be beneficial to both parties towards achieving 0% STI rates among the youth.
“We are not fighting with the owners of these nightclubs and bars,” she said. “We want them to run their businesses, but our desire is to protect these innocent souls who are exposed to rape cases, unwanted pregnancies and STIs, which eventually lead to HIV and Aids.”
Tshabalala said when she confronted the local councillor Charles Moyo about the issue, he told her he did not want to interfere because the issue would affect his job.
“Moyo told me that he would not attend the meeting we scheduled with the owners of these businesses and he further begged me not to mistreat these people at our meetings,” she said.
Contacted for comment, Moyo said there was no need for finger pointing.
“Yes, we have to engage the businessmen, but the parents need to play their role in disciplining their children because children can get these infections anywhere,” he said.
“We need to find an amicable permanent solution.”
Moyo said demonstrating was not an appropriate solution, adding that since residents failed to talk to the owners of bars, he would organise a meeting with the police, business communities and the residents to solve this problem.