VP’s pads joke in bad taste

VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s response to questions by parliamentarians pertaining to the provision of sanitary pads in the country’s prisons was a true reflection of the calibre of government Zimbabwe has.

An MDC-T MP on Wednesday asked the vice-president who doubles up as Justice minister to explain government policy on ensuring female prisoners got sanitary wear.

The response the legislators got from Mnangagwa was very contemptuous of women and exposed the vice-president as out of touch with the struggles of the common people.

Mnangagwa, without shame, told Parliament that he did not know what sanitary wear was and was not aware of the challenges women in prisons face.

The MP had to hand an unused sanitary pad to the vice-president, but he was unmoved and went on to make jokes about the whole incident.

His stunt did not impress women activists and we understand why.

Sanitary pads are not widely available in Zimbabwe and the situation is so bad that girls with nothing to use during menstruation miss school.

There are reports that some girls in rural areas even use cow dung during menstruation.

Female parliamentarians have on several occasions taken the government to task about the availability of sanitary pads, which they say are priced out of reach for ordinary women and girls through extortionist import taxes.

However, Mnangagwa has the temerity to stand before Parliament to declare that he does not know what sanitary pads are.

The manner in which the vice-president dealt with the issue cements the view that President Robert Mugabe’s foot soldiers are notoriously out of touch with reality.

Last month it was another Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko who was spewing demeaning statements against vendors trying to eke out a living on the streets.

Mphoko said he did not understand why able bodied men toiled on the streets – in a country where unemployment is estimated at over 85%.

Zimbabweans deserve a sensitive government and do not have to be looked down upon by their own elected representatives.

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