Activists are raising concern that the newly elected Tanzanian President, John Magafuli, is sadly following in the footsteps of his Gambian counterpart who in December last year declared an Islamic state, pledging to respect the rights of the Christian minority but did the exact opposite. President Yahya Jammeh soon compelled all women public servants, including Christians, to cover their hair. Gambian dictator later rescinded his infamous edit.
President John Magafuli guaranteed the rights of all Tanzanians before and after his election last year. He has since been hailed for being a saviour of a continent majority of whose leaders betray the trust and confidence of their people. But Magafuli too broke his promise when his government banned the wearing of miniskirts to curb the spread of HIV/Aids in the East African country. At least 1.4 million Tanzanians are living with the deadly virus. President Magafuli believes miniskirts encourage the spread of the virus.
Mr. Magafuli, who has already started implementing policies aimed at containing unnecessary public spending and defeat corruption, among others, is accused of slipping into the shoes of Africa’s distateful dictators. Activists beg him not to taste this dangerous route.
Tanzania’s miniskirt ban follows similar moves by Swaziland and Zimbabwe. In both Southern Africa countries, ‘rape-provoking’ miniskirts have been banned. In fact, miniskirt wearing Zimbabwean women were fined chickens and goats.
Activists say African leaders should provide quality healthcare for their dying citizens, raise public awareness and implement scientific measures to curb the rate of HIV infection instead of enforcing dress codes for women. “Their energy must be channelled towards ensuring the health and wellbeing of all citizens,” South African activist founder of Africa Unmasked, Thembi Siweya, wrote on Sowetan Live.
Activists want the likes of Magafuli and Jammeh to regulate men’s lustful behaviour as well because women don’t act in isolation. Some don’t think the miniskirt is the devil, arguing that women wear them in many countries where HIV rate remain low.