Global football star Samuel Eto’o, who was billed to officially open the community village running alongside the 18th International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa, failed to turn up amid revelations that he was demanding a lot of money as appearance fee.
Eto’o, who is also a Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria ambassador and was coming to Zimbabwe under the Global Fund banner, had also reportedly demanded to use a hired private jet to Zimbabwe.
All the costs were supposed to be met by the Global Fund.
During his stay in Zimbabwe, businessman and aspiring Zimbabwe Football Association president Dr Philip Chiyangwa had pledged to take care of his welfare.
But delegates to ICASA, particularly the youths from the community village, had their hopes of getting inspirational quotes from a fellow African youth who has made it in the football arena, shuttered.
The community village, which was supposed to have been opened officially yesterday, was later opened by UNAIDS executive director, Mr Michel Sidibé and Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa.
Other health ministers from Swaziland, Namibia, Uganda and Angola also attended the official launch together with representatives from UN agencies and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Dr Parirenyatwa said the idea behind the community village was to accommodate everyone from all walks of life wanting to share any idea on responding to HIV.
“But essentially, this is where we have a lot of drama, we have lots of quiz, we have lots of plays that depict efforts by various groups in fighting HIV and these ideas are from the communities,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
“What we have discovered is that we will not win the war against Aids unless we involve the community.
“That is why it is so special that they have their own village where they can express themselves,” he said.
Dr Parirenyatwa said ICASA was hopeful that the community village would proffer solutions to help countries end HIV/Aids by 2030.