Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has criticized top government officials - Cabinet ministers in particular - for engaging in what he alleged was promiscuous conduct that is fueling the national divorce rate and eroding the country's moral fabric.
Speaking at the marriage of a relative over the weekend, Mr. Mugabe said he was aware of two ministers caught in embarrassing situations, but did not elaborate.
Mr. Mugabe said he knew of ministers who were married, but had a mistress on the side, a phenomenon known in Zimbabwean slang as a "small house."
He said some were turning down state-designated ministerial drivers and opting to drive themselves so they could see their girlfriends without sparking gossip.
“We have so many men who have many girlfriends, even several of my ministers," Mugabe said. "I even know the names of some of their girlfriends."
"Let us stop such practices to avoid divorces," he declared.
Several months ago the 87-year-old fired a broadside at ministers whom he accused of spreading HIV, saying he knew a number of them who were taking antiretroviral drugs to prevent AIDS from development while involved with more than one woman.
Some noted that Mr. Mugabe started dating his present wife Grace before the death of his first wife, Sally, of a kidney ailment in 1992.
But Water Affairs Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo said Mr. Mugabe’s criticism is justified, and that ministers and Zimbabweans in general should behave better.
"The president himself had problems before he married his current wife," Nkomo said. "But if he has ... repented ... he now is qualified to tell others to behave."
Reverend Ray Motsi of the Christian Alliance of Zimbabwe said the church community is equally concerned at the behavior of government officials from all parties.
His sentiments were echoed by sociologist and conflict resolution expert Martha Mtisi who told VOA that while money and power contributed to the problem of multiple sexual partners, the real problem lies in the socialization process in the country.