TAC Responds to Minister of Labour
5 Febuary 2003
The Minister of Labour, Mr Sheperd Mdladlana, on ETV news on Tuesday
night (4 February), accused TAC of not negotiating in good faith with
Government. This comment was made in the context of TAC and its allies'
mobilisation for a march to the opening of Parliament on 14 February.
Our response to Mr Mdladlana is:
If Government signs the NEDLAC framework agreement, it will give hope
to millions of people with HIV in South Africa, their friends and
familes. TAC would like nothing more than to be able to work with
Government to make the treatment and prevention plan a success. If the
agreement is signed before 14 February, our march will be turned into a
celebration with Government. If the agreement is signed before the end
of February, we will call off our civil disobedience campaign. The
acrimony and battles between TAC and Government of the past few years
can be laid to rest and we can move forward together. Over 200,000
people will die of AIDS this year if they do not get treatment. A
Government of the poor should not hesitate to do what's right - to treat
- The primary purpose of the march is to demonstrate the peoples'
support for a treatment and prevention plan.
- After agreeing to sign the NEDLAC framework for a treatment and
prevention plan in November 2002, Government inexplicably pulled out,
without offering any substantive reason for doing so. Furthermore
Government has been silent on the matter of signing the agreement since
- In October, 2002, a TAC delegation met with Deputy-President
Zuma and agreed to delay our plans for civil disobedience from 1
December to the end of February, in order to give Government an
opportunity to commit to a treatment plan. However, we never gave up our
right to mobilise. The march on 14 February will be a legal and
peaceful march. It, and the buildup to it, are a democratic expression
of the desire of most South Africans for government to agree to a plan
that has the potential to save millions of lives. By failing to sign the
NEDLAC agreement and not participating in any substantive manner in
negotiations at NEDLAC since December, government has left the TAC and
its allies no choice but to increase the pressure to sign the plan.
- There have been confusing signals from Government over the last
month. The minister of Health has given credence to an AIDS denialist.
The Mpumalanga Government continues to flout the Constitutional Court's
order on mother-to-child transmission prevention and to attempt to evict
GRIP from a hospital in Nelspruit. There have been media reports of
Government's intention to commit to antiretroviral therapy in the
Budget Speech, yet no Cabinet Minister has been prepared to confirm
these reports. TAC and our allies would be derelict in our duties as
civil society organisations campaigning for the rights of people with
HIV/AIDS if in this climate of confusion we sat about silently.
Join the march to parliament in Cape Town on 14 February to demonstrate
the desire of South Africans to move forward in alleviating the HIV
epidemic, through the implemention of a national HIV/AIDS treatment
and prevention plan.