Zimbabwe National Army officers across the country are reportedly demanding free services from $3x workers as a show of appreciation for the role the military played in ousting the former President Robert Mugabe a bloodless coup.
The coup saw Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over from his boss Robert Mugabe.
The National Aids Council (NAC) and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) carried out a study last month to assess police officers knowledge, attitudes and practices towards key populations such as $3x workers, gays, lesbians and drug users.
During the research, the $3x workers complained bitterly that soldiers, some at gunpoint across the country, were demanding free $3x from them.
“Soldiers have become the menace in various areas as they demanded free $3x especially in the wake of the recent Operation Restore Legacy,” the research noted with the incidences reported to be high among soldiers based in Chiredzi.
“They claimed to have brought freedom to the country and as such should be rewarded. They were accused of not paying for the $3x while using their guns to intimidate the $3x workers.
For fear of the guns, the $3x workers end up giving in. When they asked the soldiers to pay; some soldiers would retort; ‘Wakaihoda kupi’”.
Titled “Knowledge, attitudes and practices of police officers towards key populations in Zimbabwe” the study also noted the negative practices of police officers. It found that instead of eradicating or halting $3x work, police officers were actually promoting the trade and the rise in new HIV infections.
Male police officers were also accused of demanding free $3x from the prostitutes during their patrol duties.
“$3x workers are always in a hurry and fear detection by police officers. In this regard, they do not have time to negotiate safe $3x thereby increasing chances of HIV infection,” the report says.
“While the relationship with police officers has improved, there are some police officers who still demanded free $3x particularly from new and young $3x workers who may not be experienced and knowledgeable about their rights.
“The following quotes from $3x workers help to illustrate this: ‘mapurisa echirume midzimu here inoda zvemahara? Are male police officers spirit mediums who should be given free things?
‘Vanofunga kuti tiri mabhazi eZUPCO here avanoti vakangopfeka uniform vanokwira mahara” Do they think we are Zimbabwe United Passenger Company ( ZUPCO) buses, which they ride for free once they are wearing uniforms?”
According to the report, demand for free $3x is usually used to release those $3x workers who would have been picked up on accusations such as stealing from clients.