Western hypocrisy on contraceptive use in Zimbabwe

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I HAVE always followed debates that have risen from Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede’s argument that the use of birth control pills or contraceptives by most Zimbabwean women has been designed to ensure the country’s population does not grow.
Mudede also penned a book that was highly criticised by gender activists and feminists who described it as a dangerous weapon that wanted to poison women’s minds, but should we not ask ourselves why the West is concerned with limiting population growth in African countries?
The Registrar General has been widely criticised by some gender activists and the so-called modern generation who have adopted the Western lifestyles which consider having fewer children or none at all as the in-thing.
Women, it appears, have taken ‘control’ of their reproductive health and now unilaterally decide the number of children they want to have, thanks to the use of birth control methods that are at their disposal.
However, research on contraceptive use, especially in tribal communities in Zimbabwe, point out that the practice is not only a human rights violation but has devastating effects on the community.
It denies the young women the opportunity to build families and bear as many children as their mothers did.
However, critics of Western-sponsored research on contraceptive use said denying women their rights to have children early in life has had devastating effects on the country’s population growth.
Most women now have one or two children in their lifetime as they delay starting families as a result of the ‘violent’ campaigns on birth control by Western-sponsored NGOs.
Millions of dollars have been poured in these campaigns which often demonise having many children as barbaric and as a sign of backwardness.
The social context of childbearing is changing dramatically.
In the past, prior to colonisation, young women tended to move directly from childhood to adult responsibilities, now the once brief interlude between childhood to adult responsibilities is lengthening.
Schooling and other forms of training are delaying marriage, in particular where young women find opportunities for education, they seek to prolong their schooling, a goal that most family elders declare incompatible with motherhood.
And during their schooling period, research has found out the prevalent use of contraceptives and other birth control methods.
According to some analysts, the idea of birth control in most African countries, including Zimbabwe, was mooted hundreds of years ago by some Western countries; they first divided the African nucleus family and imposed Western values among some of our people.
They then further destroyed the extended African family system which held families together.
When this was done, they had enough ammunition to preach their gospel of having less children.
Africans who were gullible enough shunned their siblings and children from their relatives, hence some NGOs discouraged families from having many children, ‘because if the parents die the children will suffer and have no social protection’.
However, it is very interesting to note that the very advocates of birth control have little or no resources to sustain higher populations in their own countries, and they often give incentives to parents who have one or less children as a way to match their land and resources.
Zimbabwe is endowed with a wide range of wildlife, natural and mineral resources and has abundant tracts of land and forests that have not been exploited and can sustain a population of more than twenty million people. It therefore boggles the mind that our women are told to limit the number of children they should have.
The issue of the ‘scarcity’ of resources and ‘poverty’ has been expertly crafted to convince several governments to control births and Zimbabwe has not been spared in this hypocrisy game by the West which seems determined to recolonise Africa through population dynamics.
There is no doubt that the prolonged use of contraceptives in Zimbabwe and other African countries has affected the long standing forms of African social organisation such as the high value attached to the perpetuation of the lineage, the importance of children as a means of gaining access to resources, particularly land as well as the use of kinship networks to share the costs and benefits of children, primarily through child fostering.
In Zimbabwe, prior to colonisation, land was itself held by corporate groups such as lineages, rather than being privately owned and was allocated by the lineage to households who possessed the requisite labour to establish and maintain use rights.
However, when all is said and done, it is the individual who must decide the means of pregnancy prevention to use.
The decision is not for NGOs to make.
It is time African governments question the motive behind Western nations’ obsession with limiting population growth on the continent.
We have vast resources which they have exploited for years and they do not want to compete with us for those.

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