17 February 2003

TAC March and Memoranda

Dear All
On Friday 14 February 2003, between 15000 and 20000 people in South Africa marched on our Parliament in Cape Town. Our President, Thabo Mbeki said less on HIV/AIDS than George Bush said about peace. Although, he spent less than three minutes on HIV/AIDS, all the marchers spent three hours listening to music, poetry, speeches and then marched.  People from every layer of society marched to demand access to treatment -- people living with HIV/AIDS from every part of South Africa, trade unionists, religious leaders, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, employers, nurses, sex workers, doctors, teachers, principals, school, technikon and university students called on government to sign and implement a national treatment and prevention plan. 
The memoranda below was handed over at Parliament to Ms. Xoliswa Sibeko from President Mbeki's office, Mr. Ebrahim Ebrahim from Deputy President Jacob Zuma's office, Mr James LV Ngculu - Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Ms Barbara Ann Hogan - Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance.
A memorandum was also handed over to the US Embassy and TAC called on all people to support the anti-war demonstrations on Saturday.
We want to thank everyone who assisted with the march, people who organised, devoted time, travelled long distances, people across the world who wrote letters to the South African government.
A fuller report coupled with our plans for the next 6 weeks will be circulated soonest.
Zackie Achmat on behalf of the Treatment Action Campaign Executive.

14 February 2003


President Thabo Mbeki (MP) and Deputy President Jacob Zuma (MP)

Minister of Finance: Mr. Trevor Manuel (MP); Minister of Foreign Affairs: Dr. Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma (MP) Minister of Health: Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (MP); Minister of Labour: Mr. Membathisi Mdladlana (MP); Minister of Social Development: Dr. Zola Skweyiya (MP); Minister of Trade and Industry: Mr. Alec Erwin (MP); All Members of Cabinet and Parliament.


C/O Chairpersons of Portfolio Committees on Health and Finance: Mr. James LV Ngculu and Ms. Barbara Hogan


Dear President Mbeki, Deputy-President Jacob Zuma and all members of Parliament


We are marching today because the opening of South Africa's Parliament in 2003 should be an important day to signal to the nation and the world the increased determination to prevent and treat HIV infection and to control an epidemic that threatens many parts of our national life. Our march is made by people representing millions of South Africans: We are people with HIV from all provinces of South Africa, members of all the major trade union federations of our country, women’s organisations, NGOs, members of medical organisations, representatives of religious faiths, academics, students, the lesbian and gay community and many more.

We stand here to demonstrate the willingness of our society to rally behind government in confronting the epidemic of HIV and AIDS.  In particular we stand here to demonstrate the depth of support there would be for government beginning to treat people with HIV/AIDS.  By government estimates, over 600 people die daily as a result of this disease. This daily presence of death, which has touched every person on this march, will become an immense well of anger that that will protest should there be further delays in our national response to halting this carnage in our country.

In particular, we come to you with three demands:




We consider it unacceptable that hardly any people in South Africa receive antiretrovirals through the public sector. Government policy to withhold these medicines is widening inequalities between the rich and the poor and between the private and public health services. It also increases the inequality between men and women. Our people are increasingly aware that many of the deaths caused by withholding antiretorivals are avoidable. Government inaction is seen as a key factor in this.  Government has resources. Government also has the power to stop drug company profiteering. It has failed to use the power won with the support of people internationally to reduce the prices of anti-retrovirals and all medicines. 



If our reasonable demands are met by government, the TAC, its allies and supporters commit to turning all our energies to implementation in all areas of HIV prevention and treatment. Areas for partnership are clearly set up in the NEDLAC framework agreement.

However, whilst TAC commits to partnership, we must also say that we cannot, with conscience, wait any longer. Numerous memoranda have been given to government leaders over the last 4 years. Many of these have gone unanswered. Protests, interfaith services, talks, negotiations and pressure have met with promises, and then, equivocation.

It is in this light that TAC has made it clear that failure to respond on these issues will lead to the commencement of a peaceful civil disobedience campaign by TAC activists. This is not the preferred route but, in the face of the illness, death and despair that face us daily in our communities, we will have no choice.  The organisations gathered here today in solidarity with the Treatment Action Campaign witness this appeal to government to meet its promise on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment that includes universal access to anti-retroviral therapy.



This campaign is supported by millions of people in South Africa and the organisations that represent them. Through international solidarity, it is also supported by hundreds of organisations globally. We urge you to make a choice that will reduce social conflict, give hope to our people and our continent, as well as cherish the ideals of freedom, equality, dignity and the right to life for all.

Attached to the letter is a list of some of the local and international organizations that support today’s march. Yours in the struggle for health and dignity.



Thabo Cele (PLWA)                      Nomfundo Dubula (PLWA)                     Pholokgolo Ramothtwala (PLWA)

Kwa-Zulu Natal              Western Cape                                  Gauteng





Portia Ngcaba (PLWA)            Thembane Shabangu (PLWA)            Edward Mabunda (PLWA)                     

Eastern Cape             Mpumalanga                                                North-West






Zackie Achmat (PLWA)                      Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane             Willie Madisha

Treatment Action Campaign            Church of the Province of South Africa             COSATU President






Gretchen Humpries                               Sharon Ekambaram                           Rev. Dr. Simphiwe Xaphile

FEDUSA                                           AIDS Consortium                            J.L. Zwane Presbyterian





Vuyiseka Dubula                                    Rabbi David Hoffman                     Moulana Farid Essack

Médecins Sans Frontières                  Temple Israel, Cape Town               Positive Muslims






Mark Heywood                               Lu-ann Hatane                                    Dr. Kgosi Letlape

AIDS Law Project                                    NACOSA (WC)                                SA Medical Association





ACCESS – Alliance for Children’s Entitlement to Social Security

AIDS Consortium

AIDS Law Project

All Africa Women For Peace

Anglican Church on Southern Africa


Basic Income Grant Coalition


Children's Rights Centre

Combined AIDS Ministry


Durban Lesbian and Gay Community Centre


Habonim Dror


Jubilee 2000

Kagiso Anglican YCW

Methodist Church of Southern Africa

Positive Muslims

Positive Wits - HIV/AIDS Campaign


SA Academy of Family Practice,


SA National NGO Coalition

South African Medical Association



Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference AIDS Office

South African Council of Churches

Temple Israel

The Caring Network

The Southern African HIV Clinicians Society

Themba HIV/AIDS Project

Triangle Project


Western Province Council of Churches,

Wits HIV/AIDS Education and Support Project

Wits Perinatal HIV Research Unit

Women on Farms Project and many others

Youth Against AIDS Network




ACT UP/ Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
ACT UP/ Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
ACT UP/ East Bay, Oakland, CA
ACT UP/ Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
ACT UP/ New York, New York, NY
ACT UP/ Paris, Paris, France
ACT UP/ Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
AIDES, Pantin, France
AIDS In Africa Committee, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston, IL
AIDS Interfaith Network, Inc., New Haven, CT


AIDSETI (AIDS Empowerment and Treatment International), Washington, D.C.
Africa Action, Washington, D.C.
African Services Committee, New York, NY
All Africa Women for Peace, Pretoria, South Africa
Amahoro Association, Jersey City, NJ
American Jewish World Service, New York, NY
American Medical Student Association, Reston, Virginia
Amnesty International, London, England
Artists Against AIDS Worldwide, New York, NY
Artists for a New South Africa, Los Angeles, CA
Black AIDS Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Boston Global Action Network, Boston, MA
Canadian Treatment Action Council, Toronto, Canada

Canadian AIDS Legal Network
DanceSafe, Sacramento, CA
European AIDS Treatment Group, Germany
Exponents Inc., New York, NY
Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research, Brooklyn, NY
Gay Men's Health Crisis, New York, NY
German Institute for Medical Mission, Germany
Global AIDS Alliance, Washington, D.C.
Global Alliance for Justice Education, AIDS Working Group, International
Global Exchange, San Francisco, CA
Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Greek Committee for International Democratic Solidarity, Athens, Greece
Hatter Support Society for Gays and Lesbians in Hungary, Budapest, Hungary
Health GAP, San Francisco, CA
Health Rights Action Group, Kampala, Uganda
Hepatitis C Outreach Project, Portland, OR
International AIDS Empowerment, El Paso, Texas

International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission,San Francisco, CA
International Labor Rights Fund, Washington, D.C.
INTERSECT-Worldwide, New York, NY
James S. Coleman African Studies Center, University ofCalifornia Los Angeles
Jubilee Northwest Coalition, Seattle, WA
Maryknoll AIDS Task Force, Maryknoll, NY
Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Royal Oak, MI
Middle East Children's Alliance, Berkeley, CA
Mobilization Against AIDS International, San Francisco, CA
NextAid, Los Angeles, CA
Northeastern Law School Global AIDS Campaign, Boston, MA
Northwest Coalition for AIDS Treatment in Africa, Seattle, WA
Operation USA, Los Angeles, CA
Physicians for Human Rights, Boston, MA
Planet Poz, Albuquerque, NM
Project Inform, San Francisco, CA
Saint Michael's College Student Global AIDS Campaign, Colchester, VT
Shanti, San Francisco, CA
South Africa Development Fund, Boston, MA
Student Global AIDS Campaign, Cambridge, MA
Survive AIDS, San Francisco, CA
Sydafrika Kontakt, Denmark
 TransAfrica Forum, Washington, D.C.

Test Positive Aware Network, Chicago, IL
Universities for Access to Essential Medicine, University of Minnesota
Washington State Africa Network, Seattle, WA
Yale AIDS Network, New Haven, CT

14 February 2003



Dear President Bush and Members of Congress




The HIV/AIDS epidemic throughout our world claims thousands of deaths daily. These deaths are premature, predictable, avoidable and the result of the HIV virus. We are marching today because the opening of South Africa's Parliament in 2003 should be an important day to signal to the nation and the world the increased determination to prevent and treat HIV infection. Our march is made by people representing millions of South Africans: We are people with HIV from all over South Africa, members of all the trade unions of our country, women’s organisations, NGOs, medical organisations, representatives of all faiths, academics, students, the lesbian and gay community and many more.  We urge our government to sign a national HIV prevention and treatment plan. We are also delivering this memorandum to your government for two reasons:


  1. We note your increased financial commitment to HIV prevention and treatment.  This will be a critical adjunct to worldwide effort if the money really becomes available for this purpose. We note with concern, regret and anger that your government has failed in its commitments to the Global Fund Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  This fund is the only hope that people globally have that no ideologically or economically motivated restrictions will be placed on HIV prevention and treatment programmes. Further, we urge your government in the strongest terms to reconsider its global priorities to invest in peace and development, as well as to strengthen multilateral institutions.  Specifically, we demand that you contribute $2.5billion dollars to the Global Fund this year.


  1. The United States government remains as the only government world-wide that undermines any meaningful agreement on access to essential medicines for all public health issues and all countries at the World Trade Organisation.  Your intransigence will destroy faith in multilateral trade negotiations as people in poor countries will only see unnecessary deaths as a consequence of negotiations that protect the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies. We urge you to allow all poor countries to import generic medicines for all illnesses including HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, cancer, diabetes and asthma.


The Treatment Action Campaign and all our allies globally and locally insist that we will get a formal response from your government.



Yours faithfully





Zackie Achmat               Sipho Mthathi                Mark Heywood

On behalf of the Treatment Action Campaign