When the sun goes down, nightlife takes over. The City of Gweru is located between Harare and Bulawayo and is ranked Zimbabwe’s number three in terms of growth.
Despite Gweru’s nightlife is not as hot as compared to smaller towns such as Kadoma and Chitungwiza where a sizeable chunk of the population does not retire to bed early. Here by 2100 hours, the city center will be virtually empty, leaving only a few especially commercial sex workers and security guards roaming the town. The Midlands Province’s capital is dominated by few pubs and night clubs, the leading one being Downtown which is located on the periphery of the town’s Central Business District (CBD).
Downtown is usually frequented by students from the Midlands State University hence a number of “sex predators” visit the joint for easy catch, taking advantage of the plight of desperate female students. Some distressed female students end up trading in sex charging as little as $2 per round (for a few minutes) in order to make ends meet, therefore exposing themselves to sexual transmitted infections such as Aids.
It’s not only university students who drive Gweru’s nightlife but also security guards and full-time commercial sex workers. When the WeekendPost news crew went around the streets of Gweru on a Friday, half-naked women were seen lining up the streets waiting for clients. It was discovered that a number of security guards in this town augment their meagre wages by converting business premises into brothels, giving space for conventional commercial sex workers whenever they got a client — but of course for a fee.
One of the security guards (company name withheld) fled when this publication asked him about the kind of business he was conducting in conjunction with the prostitutes. At the premise, the guard had prepared a makeshift single bed which sex workers took turns to use and it is usually for short-periods of time. An unidentified self-confessed commercial sex worker was bitter when asked why they were converting business premises into brothels. “Leave sekuru (security guard) alone, he is very kind to us.
He did not allow us to have sex inside the building but we only use the room for storage. We left our bags inside the room, not for sex,” she said adding that she is not cheap to the extent of having sex on such a ramshackle bed. “We are not cheap as you think; we are not here for pedestrians but rather our clients drive expensive cars and we have sex in their cars, not on this bed, if you want to get the truth of the matter stay here for a while,” she said.
In September this year, the National Aids Council Monitoring and Evaluation coordinator Isaac Taramuse was quoted by local media saying the country is at risk for new STIs infections with Harare leading the figures followed by Masvingo Province. Masvingo has become a source of such drug resistant STIs.
“We have noticed some drug-resistant STIs like syphilis, gonorrhea and discharges from around 2010 in Masvingo. These drug resistant STIs increased and gradually spread to other places like Harare, Mashonaland East and the Midlands. We believe that Masvingo has become a source of these diseases for other provinces. There is every reason to believe that they (STIs) are coming from South Africa through migrant and transitional labor,” said Taramuse.
The National Aids Council report indicates that last year Zimbabwe had a total of 261 032 recorded cases of STIs and 157 965 of the cases were women.