Zimbabwe MPs shun Thokozani Khope's circumcision call

Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe (file photo) Thokozani Khupe's suggestion is not going down well with her fellow MDC MPs

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Zimbabwe's male MPs are not enthusiastic about a call for them to be circumcised to set an example in the fight against Aids, the BBC has found.

Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe made the call, following evidence that circumcised men are 60% less likely to get infected with HIV.

Of eight MPs the BBC spoke to, only one said he would heed her suggestion.

One called it "madness", while another said he was setting a good example through his behaviour.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries worst hit by Aids and the government last year launched a campaign to circumcise up to 80% of the country's young men - some three million people.

The World Health Organization is encouraging men to get circumcised following studies in other African countries.

Aids experts, however, warn that using a condom, abstaining from sex or being faithful to one partner offer far greater protection against HIV infection.

'Circumcision of the mind'

Minister of National Healing Moses Mzila Ndlovu told the BBC's Brian Hungwe in Harare that some of his cabinet colleagues had described Ms Khupe's suggestion as "madness" and "bizarre".

"I don't see many takers but I'm not stopping anyone," he said.

His colleague Nelson Chamisa said it should be a matter of individual choice.

"It has to be a circumcision of the mind rather than circumcision of the organ," he said.

Edgar Mbwembwe, from Zanu-PF, was the only legislator who said he would go ahead with the procedure.

Another, Willias Madzamure, said the call was a good idea and said he was "seriously considering" it but did not firmly commit himself.

Two female MPs backed Ms Khupe.

Jessie Majome said: "Politicians, especially elected politicians, have a responsibility beyond the personal - they would set a good example if they did so."

Only a few of Zimbabwe's ethnic groups practise circumcision for cultural reasons.

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