22 April 2003
International Solidarity Actions and TAC
Civil Disobedience on 24 April 2003
It is over a year since the South African Cabinet announced a change in
its HIV/AIDS policy. One year later government still does not have a
treatment and prevention plan and it still does not provide
antiretroviral treatment to those who need it. Meanwhile, more than
600 people die daily in South Africa of HIV/AIDS. In the last three
weeks, TAC has buried seven of its members. Just this weekend, the
funerals for TAC leaders Charlene Wilson and Edward Mabunda were held
On 24 April 2003, people around the world will demonstrate and picket
at South African embassies and consulates, meet with South African
officials, hold press conferences, coordinate letter-writing and
petition drives and engage in other actions in support of TAC's demand
for a comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.
In South Africa, TAC volunteers will continue their civil disobedience
campaign. In Pretoria and Cape Town, volunteers who are prepared to get
arrested will occupy the Departments of Health and Trade and Industry
In Japan, 600 paper cranes, symbolizing daily AIDS deaths in South
Africa, will be delivered by demonstrators at the South African Embassy.
In the Netherlands, marchers will deliver 600 red tulips and
participate in a 'die in' at the embassy, while in Los Angelas,
Washington DC, London and Milan, 600 pairs of shoes will represent the
daily AIDS deaths. Doctors in Kenya will hold a press conference and
AIDS activists from all over Latin America have issued a united
statement. In addition, solidarity actions are also planned in Belgium,
Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ivory Coast, Venezuela, Jamaica and
the Caribbean region, Namibia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Uganda
- and the list continues to grow.
The common theme for these international actions is support for the
Treatment Action Campaign's demands that the government make a
commitment to a public sector antiretroviral provision programme and
return to negotiations at NEDLAC and commit to signing a Framework
Agreement on a National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Plan.
Freedom Day is just a few days away. South Africa is an immeasurably
better place than it was before 1994. We have a Constitutional Democracy
and representative government, but millions of South Africans are in
desperate need of the basic necessities, such as health, nutrition and
decent education, that make freedom from want possible. The actions on
24 April call on South Africa's democratically elected government to
address the urgent health needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, their
families and friends. We call on government to build a better
health-care system by implementing an HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention
For a full and updated list of international efforts, please go to http://www.tac.org.za
Events in South Africa
- Pretoria: Occupation of Department of Health starting at 12pm
(Contact Pholokgolo, Lefa or Fanayi on 011 339 8421 or 011 403 2293)
- Cape Town: Occupation of Department of Trade and Industry
starting at 12pm (Contact Thembeka, Nomfundo or Nondumisa on 021 364
- Nelspruit: Picket outside Government Complex from 11am to 1pm
(Contact Thembane on 083 684 1038)
- East London: March at 8am starting opposite Mdantsane taxi-rank
followed by demonstration on Mdantsane Highway from 10am (Contact Ivy or
Portia on 043 760 0050)
- Durban: Picket in Gugu Dlamini Park from 10am to 3pm (Contact
Makhosini, S'fiso or Thabo on 031 304 3673)
A sample letter than can be sent to the South African government is
SAMPLE LETTER TO SA GOVERNMENT FOR 24 APRIL
Mr J Zuma (Deputy-President, South Africa)
Dr ME Tshabalala-Msimang (Minister of Health, South Africa)
Mr A Erwin (Minister of Trade and Industry, South Africa
Dr NC Dlamini Zuma (Minister of Foreign Affairs, South Africa)
120 Plein Street
24 April 2003
Fax: +27 21 464 2271
Dear Mr Zuma, Dr Tshabalala-Msimang, Mr Erwin and Dr Dlamini Zuma
SOUTH AFRICA NEEDS AN HIV/AIDS TREATMENT AND PREVENTION PLAN
We are deeply concerned that the South African government has not
adopted or implemented an HIV/AIDS treatment plan. Over 600 South
Africans die a day on average of HIV/AIDS. Most of them die because
they cannot afford to buy life-saving medicines. We appeal to you
agree to the demands of the Treatment Action Campaign to sign the
NEDLAC Framework Agreement for an HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention
Plan and to make an irrevocable commitment to providing
antiretroviral therapy in the public sector. If South Africa does
this, it will demonstrate that wide-scale treatment can be made
available in the developing world and that there is no reason why the
international community cannot unite to make life-saving treatment
available to poor people everywhere.
South Africa's transition to democracy has been remarkable. Its
Constitution and democratic structures have set a magnificent example
for the whole world. But the South African Government's negligent
response to the HIV epidemic is damaging its international
reputation. We appeal to you: For the sake of millions of lives give
meaning to the Constitutional rights to life, dignity and health-care
by implementing an HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention plan. South
Africa's Freedom Day is in a few days time. This marks the first
democratic election in South Africa. Please use this day as an
opportunity to give hope to millions of people by announcing the
rollout of an antiretroviral treatment programme.
Your name, organisation, full address
CC: Local Consulate-General/Ambassador
CC: Local Media & firstname.lastname@example.org
Article in this morning's Sowetan by ANC
Youth League attacking TAC
The following article was published in The Sowetan by the ANC
Youth League today. Subscribers should be aware that since South Africa
became democratic, the ANC Youth League has not represented youth.
Instead it has been a mouthpiece of irrationality inside the ANC. TAC
will respond to this piece in The Sowetan.
The article is reproduced below - unchanged, unedited, uncorrected.
Pagad and TAC two sides of the same coin
Sowetan, 22. Apr. 2003
Treatment Action Campaign activists are nothing less than paid
marketing agents for toxic AIDS drugs from America, says Khulekani
Ntshangase, ANC Youth League spokesman
Prior to the 1999 elections, South Africa was reported to be the crime
capital of the world where people were "raped every six seconds? and
killed every 27th minute". The local media fell into that trap and even
the foreign media was advising people not to visit this country.
No matter how much the Government explained the issue of crime
statistics, no one paid attention. We were told that youth were all
criminals and that they were not going to vote.
This led to the formation of the most brutal form of mafia posing as
vigilantes - People Against Drugs and Gangsterism (Pagad). Pagad's roll
was to serve as the pressure group, and it had all the money in the
world required to run its operations.
Central to their message and that of the media was: there is high rate
of crime in this country as result, people will not vote. Many lives
were lost in the process of this group's work.
But in the end Pagad was tamed and its leaders were sent to jail. Some
are still facing charges related to their wrong doings - this thanks to
our Government's swift response to the threat posed by Pagad. The
Government busted Pagad despite SABC and Sanef's quest to hide the
crucial evidence required by the prosecution team to lock away those
involved in murdering other people.
Today, South Africa is the "HIV and Aids capital of the world". We are
told that the biggest killer in this country is HIV and Aids.
But every honest person knows that the overwhelming majority of our
people die from accidents and violence. The second biggest killer is
TB pushing HIV/Aids into the third place.
The Government has consistently explained this and yet some sections of
the media and those in business use all means possible to divert the
Just like in 1999, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is being used to
discredit the government. Both Pagad and TAC come from Cape Town and
are formed for the single mission, to mobilize people against the
African National Congress Government.
TAC commands the backing of the media; just like Pagad whose leaders
were only known by certain journalists who continued to give them
exclusive interviews whilst on the other hand justice was busy looking
for them in vain.
When approached, they said: "No, you are tempering with freedom of
press and protection of sources."
Pagad was rightwing fundamentalist whilst TAC is led by the ultra-left
fanatics which make the two the same because ultra-left and ultra-right
use the same vocabulary in their attack for progressive leaders of the
revolution. They also get funding from the same source and employ the
same strategy and tactic.
The TAC claims that it has the support of the majority in this country
and that these "masses" will not vote next year unless the government
is prepared to distribute "highly toxic" drugs willy-nilly without
considering side effects.
Remember that is exactly what Pagad said about 1999 elections.
Same vocabulary and same tactic!
Is it true that the Government is doing nothing about HIV and Aids? The
answer is known by all, even those that are in the forefront of TAC
hurling insults and shouting lies and malice are aware. They
participated in the drafting of the Government's comprehensive HIV-Aids
Perhaps we need to talk a little bit about TAC! This is just a harmless
but very loud pressure group whose salaries are paid by Americans. This
is a conglomeration of drug-dealers who serve as marketing agents of
toxic drugs which are not even used where they come from, America.
This group claims to be led by ANC members; even one of them was
lobbying to become a member of the national executive committee. What a
But are they real ANC members? Certainly not! Any ANC member should
know policies of the movement and those of the Government. It is even
worse when you talk about people who pose as leaders.
But why can't they just leave the ANC and join the Democratic Alliance
(DA)? Their masters know very well that the best way to confuse the
public is by claiming to be a member of the ANC.
Of course some of them have membership ANC cards, but that does not
make them ANC members. It is not every membership cardholder that is a
member of the movement as much as it is not every non-membership
cardholder that is not ANC.
Should our revolutionary Government bow to the pressure of activists
and convert the Health Department into HIV/Aids Department? It can't
As much as HIV/Aids is very important, the country cannot behave as
though there are no other health related problems.
Pagad was destroyed so will be TAC!
But how? The Government should investigate ways of arresting people
such as those who campaign for the poisoning of our people. Those that
mislead innocent people and those that have no respect for the poor and
But our negotiated democracy may not agree. What does the Government do
then? It must continue to work hard to create a better life for all.
The Government must further help its youth to cease opportunities
created by this democracy. This will include skills development, job
create and entrepreneurship development.
This is enough ammunition to ensure that the shadow of death created by
TAC is completely and speedily curbed.
But why does the workers' movement participate in the killing of its
membership and the entire community?
Is it because trade union leaders do not understand the danger posed by
pharmaceutical companies and TAC or they don't care for their
I don't know, but I think we are dealing with the phenomenon created by
the new experience which believes in popularism.