Zimbabwe sect issues call to abandon polygamy

Harare, Zimbabwe - Leaders of Zimbabwes Vapostori indigenous Christian sects have issued a call to their followers to abandon polygamy to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, a state-run newspaper reported Sunday.

Zimbabwes government hailed the news as an «historic» breakthrough in the fight against HIV/AIDS, now thought to infect 24 percent of the countrys 12 million people. The leaders of the affiliated sects met last week and issued a 23-page document urging abolition of polygamy, child marriage and inheritance of brothers widows, which they previously approved, The Sunday Mail reported. Vapostori followers, who shun religious buildings and are commonly seen gathering under trees in white robes, practice a blend of traditional African reverence for ancestors and Christianity. Many Vapostori groups oppose Western medicine and education of girls.

Vapostori are thought to number over one million and 70 «bishops» attended the gathering in Harare, though there is no formal organizational structure. The document quoted Bible verse 1 Timothy 3:2, which says a man should be «husband of but one wife.» The document also said: «There is a danger if the husband cannot satisfy the wives, they will be tempted to look for sex outside the marriage, or one of the partners may be infected and this will increase the risk of contracting and spreading HIV.