TAC Newsletter - 9 April 2003
Edward Mabunda, TAC activist, poet and comrade died of AIDS this morning - 9 April 2003. He is survived by three children, his wife and mother. He was just 36. Many who attended the TAC/COSATU Treatment Congress in June last year or the Stand Up for Our Lives march to Parliament on 14 February 2003 will remember his unique brand of poetry recitals which galvanised audiences to action. As a friend of Edward wrote today, "I can still see Edward roaring like a wounded lion. His voice still echoes." He played a central role in TAC's Gauteng activities and was one of TAC's earliest members. Edward has made several emphatic appeals to government to make antiretroviral medicines available in the public health sector. Last night, he asked to record a message to TAC activists. It is transcribed below and the actual recording can be downloaded here.
Edward's health had been getting worse over the last two months. About a week ago, a source of antiretroviral medicines was secured for him, but it was too late. His CD4 count had already fallen to below 20. He had disseminated TB and it was impossible for him to start taking antiretroviral medicines unless he recovered from this. Over the last few days, Edward's doctor diagnosed him with TB, pneumonia and kidney failure.
Hamba Kahle Edward Mabunda.
(Funeral details will follow.)
TRANSCRIPTION OF EDWARD'S FINAL TAPE-RECORDED MESSAGE - (PLEASE NOTE THIS WAS RECORDED LAST NIGHT WHEN HE WAS VERY ILL, THEREFORE HIS VOICE WAS UNCLEAR AT TIMES AND A FEW LINES WERE TOO DIFFICULT TO TRANSCRIBE.)
"People must support TAC because the government is dragging its feet for 4 years. TAC is negotiating with the Government to implement a national treatment plan. So now I think it is high time that TAC has started a civil disobedience to show the government that 600 people a day are dying of HIV/AIDS. We want ordinary people in South Africa to have these antiretrovirals. It is no good for me to be on antiretrovirals and my friends on the ground are dying. So why isn't the government ... I personally... when the government say they don't want to sign... the reason they don't want to sign... I think the government is talking nonsense because people are dying every day.
So I am urging the people all over the world to support TAC to show solidarity with South Africa - we are dying. As a person living with HIV/AIDS I am very fortunate to be a member of TAC. What about the person who came off the streets who knows nothing about the treatment? So please- the world must support us, the world must be with us. I want to salute all the comrades who went on this civil disobedience and I pledge that I wanted to give them my...I wanted to be part of it. Unfortunately I am sick. I am laying here in a hospital and TAC is doing everything for me. Please I beg you..."
Below is COSATU's Statement on Edward's Death.
Edward Mabunda died this morning in Johannesburg Hospital, from Aids-related illnesses. The congress of South African Trade Unions sends its deepest condolences to his family and comrades in the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). Edward's personal tragedy highlights the hundreds of other tragedies experienced by people living with HIV/Aids. He should not have died. He is one of hundreds whose lives could have been saved if they had had access to anti-retroviral medicines at an earlier stage. They would still be with us and Edward would still be playing his leading role in the TAC campaign for a national treatment programme. When COSATU leaders, Willie Madisha and Zwelinzima Vavi met Edward on 3 April, he spoke about TAC with pride and hope and expressed his determination to recover and continue campaigning. COSATU pledges its continuing support for the TAC'scampaign for antiretroviral treatment. The best way to remember Edward will be for the campaign to be taken to new heights and more and more pressure exerted on government and business to sign the draft Nedlac agreement on a national HIV/Aids prevention and treatment plan and to make sure that it is implemented as fast as possible. Let there be no more unnecessary deaths!