Zambian President Frederick Chiluba has questioned the use of
condoms in the fight against AIDS. According to him, "It [the
use of condoms] is a sign of weak morals on the part of the
This statement immediately provoked criticism from many AIDS
activists and some scientists, while a leading daily, the Post
of Zambia, wrote that, "It is worrying to hear the head of
state preaching against the use of the condom."
"I don't believe in condoms myself because it is a sign of weak
morals on the part of the user," claimed President Chiluba
addressing members of his ruling party - the Movement for
Multiparty Democracy - at a meeting held in Kabwe, a mining
town north of the capital city, Lusaka.
Although he admitted that, "Our graveyards are now bigger than
our compounds because of HIV/AIDS," Chiluba told Zambians to
refrain from casual sex instead of relying on the use of
condoms as a protective measure.
"If you cannot abstain from casual sex then try to regulate
yourself," said the president. In fact, Chiluba's wife left him
late last year after she was allegedly involved in an
Chiluba, who proclaimed Christianity as the state religion,
publicly questioned his compatriots as to why they would buy
condoms when they knew that it would lead them to risk HIV/AIDS
"We find President Chiluba's statement [on condoms] as being
out of touch with reality which should raise worry among all,"
said the Times of Zambia in its editorial.
While the condom may not be 100 percent safe, wrote the paper,
it at least offers a high percentage of protection from
contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
In the absence of a real cure for AIDS, most scientists agree
that the use of condoms, AIDS awareness, and abstaining from
casual sex remain the best options in order to avoid infection.
"It is worrying and in fact frightening to look at Zambia's
high HIV/AIDS figures and hear the head of state not helping
the situation by preaching against the use of the condom," said
Former President Kenneth Kaunda, who ruled Zambia from its
independence in 1964 until 1991 when Chiluba came to power,
recently said that Africa could conquer the spread of AIDS by
fighting "the wall of silence about the epidemic" and raising
AIDS awareness in every single village.
Kaunda, whose son died of AIDS, insisted that people must use
condoms. "Even within families, condoms can be used to control
births. "AIDS is a merciless killer that knows no boundaries.
... It is killing millions around the world - black, white,
yellow, whatever their color, race, or religion," said Kaunda.
It is officially estimated that 650,000 people have already
died of AIDS in Zambia. One million Zambians or over a fifth of
the total adult population are HIV-positive, while there are
more than half a million AIDS orphans (one in three is living
The Catholic Church in Zambia has used every opportunity to
voice its condemnation of the use of condoms as immoral and has
even expressed its outrage at HIV/AIDS awareness
advertisements, especially those aired on television.
However, Health Minister Enoch Kavindele warned church leaders
about "the high prospects of preaching to an empty church,
unless we face the reality that the situation at hand is
"The church is blind in one eye because this issue of
abstinence cannot easily help reduce HIV infections," said
Society for Family Health Executive Director Nils Gade, who
pointed out that HIV/AIDS is striking married couples as well.
It is expected that the debate on the use of condoms may
continue, but activists can only hope that Zambians will take
heed of the Post's final comment that, "Little protection
[condoms] is definitely better than no protection at all."