By Robert Tapfumaneyi
HUMAN rights defenders and activists are up in arms with the Zimbabwe BroadcastingCorporation (ZBC) for airing a television programme that promotes hate against people living with albinism.
Many took to social media calling the authorities at the state-owned broadcaster to order and condemning the airing of a programme misinforming thousands of viewers and going against its own duty to inform, educate and entertain the public.
On Monday ZTV current affairs programme ‘Spiritual Highway’ guest Patriach Nyaudetold viewers that “albinism is a result of witchcraft”.
“The utterances by Nyaude buttress the misconception that albinism is the results of evil spirits which has resulted in person with albinism being rejected, discriminated or killed for ritual purposes,” said Zimbabwe Peace Project said in a statement Tuesday.
“This programme has effects of undermining the ongoing programs to end stereotypes against people living with albinism in particular and with disability in general.”
Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director with Human Rights Watch said the programme was ‘shameful’.
“Patriarch Nyaude made false claims that Albinism is caused by witchcraft. What utter hogwash! Shameful for ZBC to put him on air,” he said.
“I have complained to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission but also engaged ZBC TV to have this corrected and Nyaude’s comments be dismissed as hogwash that they are.”
Elsewhere, the founder of Girl Child Network Betty Makoni said the video was heart-breaking.
“The last thing it should do is to put children who are already at risk to all this dangerous talk. Zimbabwe has great opportunity to move away from child abuse, all harmful and religious practices, beliefs and attitudes and create environments where all children thrive,” she said.
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said, on a continent (Africa) where people living with albinism are persecuted and murdered to make ‘muti’ based on myth that their body parts poses supernatural powers, more responsible airing of programmes from national broadcaster is expected.
“These beliefs and myths stern from misinformation and lies that are systematically peddled to target one specific community and it is very unfortunate that the national broadcaster decided to air such views without a counter narrative form medical experts,” said ZADHR.
“ZBCTV should air a program dedicated to educating the nationabout albinism and the various challenges faced by this section of thecommunity and various ways individuals and communities can contribute toimprove the lives of this vulnerable group.”
Zimbabwe Peace Project also called on the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) to fine the national broadcaster and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to institute an investigation with the view of sanctioning those who were behind the production and airing of such a programme on International Human Rights Day.