Shamwari Yemwana Sikana (SYS), a local non-governmental organisation has expressed concern over the hype and manner in which vuzu parties have become a threat to sexual and reproductive health among girls.
The non-governmental organisation recently held a listening meeting to understand how and why these parties are being done in the first place in order to come up with some solutions.
SYS programs coordinator, Esnara Kativhu said the country can never combat HIV and STIs if vuzu parties continue.
“When they engage in their sex marathons, they do not use protection according to what we are being told. We have to reinforce the need for condom use even if what we prefer for our teens is abstinence,” she said.
Kativhu said from the discussions they had; poverty was the main drive for vuzu parties as participants would be getting some money if they win sex races.
She said there is a need to increase capacity-building programs for young people especially girls as they need to have options for recreation.
“Part of this increased programming should include awareness programs on drug use and unprotected sex. It will be pointless to have these programs with the girl child only, but we want also to make sure that boys are engaged on the effects of vuzus because from the engagement we heard that it is mostly boys who plan these parties, bring alcohol and even invite girls,” she said.
Kativhu said Bulawayo is common with vuzu parties among youths who often engage in alcohol and unprotected sex but it is now also common in Harare.
She added that Police must arrest adults who are providing venues for vuzu parties and there is a need for collaborations with relevant stakeholders which includes relevant ministries that work with children to have the mandate to make sure that children are safe and we call for positive parenting because some children go to vuzu parties to refresh their minds as they might not have emotional support from their parents.
Pada Platform director, Karen Mukwasi said from a few conversations and opinions influences include peer pressure, as their friends are doing it so it must be the cool thing to do.
She also said a lot of mothers have left for the diaspora hence teens lack supervision, and with a parent who’s absent there is usually money to spend.
“The state of our economy has left our children vulnerable as parents try to seek greener pastures outside the country,” she said.
She said there is a need for law enforcement to act vigilantly.
“If children are under 18, who is selling them alcohol? How are they accessing drugs? Adults who make these substances available to children under 18 should be prosecuted,” said Mukwasi.
Vuzu parties are wild indoor gatherings organised by teenagers mostly boys with activities that include beer-drinking binges, drugs, and unprotected sex at times with multiple partners.
Recently, on September 18 2023, police in Bulawayo arrested 14 pupils at a vuzu party. In August this year again, 19 students were nabbed during a raid on a sex party in Harare.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) in November 2022 arrested 39 students from various schools in Bulawayo after raiding a Vuzu party in Khumalo Suburb.