Now Daily Investigation
If you live in the Borrowdale Brooke area of Harare, or happen to access the internet from there, you are likely to be inundated with requests for sex and even marriage from apparently rich but desperate women.
Many of the women suffered early widowhood due to the raging AIDS pandemic affecting the country. Now they want another go at sex but are too embarrassed, too ashamed or too proud to look for men their own age or older, which is more socially acceptable in Zimbabwe. Instead, they prey on desperate, often jobless younger men, winning the hapless youths with promises of jobs, cash and the good life.
Experts say the development is fuelling HIV/AIDS as many of the ‘jelly mammas’ are infected or engage in risky sexual behaviour trusting their money to help them ride any disease storms.
“My husband died of AIDS and I am HIV positive myself, so I am looking for someone who will not ask too many questions,” said 34 year-old Loretta, who inherited her family’s business and owns a factory in Msasa. “I have tried to go out with men of my own age or older. The problem is that many of them are either married or too busy to give me what I want. I’ve got enough money to take care of myself. What I need is sex and undivided attention. I also want someone who can run around for me and take me out to clubs and other places where young people go without feeling embarrassed.”
Another woman, Janet, who is 40, was seen lounging at a local hotel with a man half her age. She said she had won Stan over by giving him a job as a driver at the bank where she is a top executive. Stan is now her personal assistant, and accompanies her wherever she goes.
“I’m in it for the money,” confided Stan. “I service her several times a week and she keeps me employed because I don’t have five O’Levels. The only problem is that she meets so many men in her line of work and that makes me feel jealous, but I have to hide my feelings.”
Janet said she was aware that Stan had a girlfriend but was trying to convince him to leave the other woman and marry her.
“I am ready to settle down with Stan but he keeps postponing the engagement. He says he is still consulting his family, who will never agree to this sort of arrangement. He feels insecure and his folks are not helping the situation by pointing out the dangers of marrying an older woman like me. Yes, I have kids about his age, but what has that got to do with love?” said Janet.
Another woman, who gave her name as Ruth said she was not willing to get married but had caught onto the trend ‘for fun’. She confessed that she had dated several younger men, some from the office, but avoided marriage because of the material issues involved.
“I have avoided getting married because I’m afraid of losing my wealth. Many of these ‘sixteen valves’ or ‘bank tellers’ who go out with older women are just after money. So far, I haven’t met a single young guy who wasn’t after money. You can see it in their eyes. They want what’s in your wallet more than what is in your panties, which is a problem,” said Ruth.
Many of the ‘bank tellers’, as the younger lovers are known, confessed that they did not find the ‘jelly mammas’ attractive sexually.
“The truth is, I prefer sex with women who are younger than me or of the same age. The problem is that many of these young girls have no money. Besides, many of the young women are going out with older men for money, so it is better for me to go out with someone who will cheat on me and give me money,” said 23 year-old Tafadzwa, a college student, showing off his girlfriend’s BMW.
Government statistics show, however, that women were more likely to go out with men ten or more years older than them. Such ‘transactional’ relationships are said to be increasing as the economy worsens and joblessness increases.
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