Did He Really Want Swaziland’s HIV Population to Have Their Butts Branded?


Swaziland Parliament member (and founder of music troupe Ncandweni Christ Ambassadors) Timothy Myeni didn’t mean to say he thought anyone who’s HIV-positive should have his butt cheeks branded as such. Well, at least he doesn’t mean it now.

In a devastatingly poor nation with some of the highest levels of HIV, Myeni’s suggestion about branding the infected didn’t take well. Myeni insists it was only a suggestion he made a a health workshop, and it was quickly shot down by health workers.

“I want to disassociate myself from the statement that has been doing rounds in the media saying I suggested that people with HIV should be branded. That is not what I said,” he insists. “I posed a question to the workshop facilitator saying maybe those who have been found with the virus must have a mark so that they can get quick medical attention.”

Along with the explanation, though, comes an apology — after the HIV advocacy organization
Treatment Action Campaign — the most effective of its kind, according to the New York Times — threatened to boycott Myeni’s music. (Interesting how the biggest threat to a public official is his private revenue stream.)

So does TAC accept Myeni’s apology? Yes, but only on the “condition that he returns to Swaziland and apologises on all media platforms and positively speaks about the prevention and treatment of HIV/ AIDS.” Looks like it worked.

(NB: Interestingly, notes the Swazi Observer, “a clause that seeks to recall incompetent MPs or those who disgrace their communities was rejected by MP Myeni and his colleagues in the House of Assembly back in 2005. The public stand no chance, legally speaking, to recall an MP and SWAPOL’s petition to the Speaker does not have any legal basis in terms of the current Constitution.”)