Controversial pastor, Paul Sanyangore, of “anointed condoms” fame, has been asked to stop praying for condoms as this would only mislead and misinform the public.
During a heated and emotive discussion at the Condomise Campaign tent at the International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA), Sanyangore came under fire from the campaign organisers and participants, mostly young people who felt his stance was retrogressive in the fight against HIV and Aids.
“Please stop praying for the condoms, it misinforms the public and is totally against science,” United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) senior HIV technical advisor Bidia Deperthes said.
She argued there was no need to get the condoms blessed, adding religious leaders should not mislead congregants.
However, the 30-year-old pastor defended his actions, saying condoms were physical and when he prayed he was addressing the spiritual side.
“This woman came to a spiritual church and came to me to pray for her condoms. I can only tackle it spiritually,” Sanyangore said.
The pastor, who is also popular for other controversial miracles, said attacks on the church would only drive it away.
He boasted of a congregation of over 5 000 people, saying it was a good platform to talk about HIV and Aids.
“The church is the best social place to discuss these issues; I am tired of burying people who are dying of Aids. I have buried 10 so far, imagine by the time I get to 50,” he said. He said when he prayed for the condoms, he was addressing the spiritual side and, therefore, could not comment on their safety or efficiency.
But UNFPA chief of procurement services Eric Dupont said condoms underwent rigorous tests and were safe to use without being prayed for.
“Condoms should not be anointed. It sends a very skewered message,” he said.
A barrage of questions from the audience attacked the pastor for his actions which he consistently defended.
“I did not say condoms are not safe, neither did I say they are from the devil. Married people can sit down and decide to use them. Condoms should be used, but if people ask me to pray for them, I will,” Sanyangore said defiantly.
A representative from the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, Albert Maqolo, who was one of the panellists, said several tests were done in accredited laboratories to ensure that condoms were safe.
Sanyangore hogged the limelight after he prayed for condoms during a service. Several women stampeded to have a box of the “anointed” condoms for use in their homes. A certain woman had approached him saying that her husband who had been away for two years after a mysterious disappearance was coming back home.