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Aids delegates frisked at Sheraton

Ngoni Chanakira

THERE was drama on Wednesday at the Sheraton Harare Hotel when delegates, including Foreign ministers, were suddenly told to vacate the prestigious facility to be searche

d because President Robert Mugabe was coming to deliver the opening address at the HIV/Aids conference.

“I am afraid we have been told that you now have to leave the conference room because certain security measures now need to be conducted,” a security official told surprised participants.

There were more than 300 international conference delegates in the five-star Sheraton Harare Jacaranda Rooms when the sudden announcement was relayed to delegates, who included ministers of health from the Southern African Development Community region, members of the diplomatic corps and heads of international organisations.

When businessdigest went around trying to clarify what was happening, delegates were being searched at all entrances.

They were told to empty their bags, pockets and go through various security checks which some found to be “dehumanising”.

Hundreds of school children from Prince Edward School, Girl’s High School and Queen Elizabeth High School that were invited to attend the event were not spared the sudden spot checks.

HIV and Aids currently account for more than 3 000 deaths weekly.

There are currently 1 820 000 people in Zimbabwe estimated to be HIV positive.

International delegates, including those from the United States and the United Kingdom, were attending the conference.

“Delegates had made their way willy-nilly into the conference hall without security checks,” an official said when questioned about the sudden decision to move individuals out of the conference hall.

“They now need to be checked because the President is coming anytime now to address the conference.”

An anti-corruption and good corporate governance symposium scheduled to be held at the HICC on the same day had to be postponed to pave way for the HIV and Aids conference which had begun on Tuesday.

Individuals who had been invited to the anti-corruption symposium included Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, currently trying to sell his Homelink programme to Zimbabweans in the diaspora, Anti-Corruption Minister Didymus Mutasa and Necf spokesman Nhlanhla Masuku.

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