24 April - From Venezuela to Jamaica to Finland to Ivory Coast to
Tanzania, people across the world are expressing solidarity with South
Africans with HIV/AIDS by urging the SA Government to save lives, by
implementing an HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention plan.
Here is just a small sample of the activities that have taken place or
are being planned for the 24th of April:
In Nairobi, activists will hold a press conference to express
solidarity with TAC's demands.
In Tokyo, 600 paper cranes, representing 600 people dying a day of
HIV/AIDS in South Africa, were handed over to the South African
In Amsterdam, 600 red tulips will be handed over to the South African
In Los Angelas, 600 pairs of shoes will be placed in front of the South
In London, 25 pairs of shoes an hour will be laid in front of South
In Milan, 600 shoes will form part of a demo on the Piazza Duca D'Aosta.
At Harvard University on 16 April, nearly the entire audience attending
a talk by Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, stood in support of
In Paris, demonstrators at the South African embassy in Paris will hold
Wanted Posters for Ministers Erwin and Tshabalala-Msimang.
A petition collected at the Latin American AIDS Conference in Cuba will
be faxed to all regional South African representatives.
Hundreds of letters from people living in countries as diverse as the
US, Denmark, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Thailand and Nigeria have been sent to
South African officials.
To express your support for an HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention plan,
fax, mail or email Deputy-President Jacob Zuma:
Private Bag X1000
Fax: (021) 464 2271
In South Africa, TAC will continue its civil disobedience campaign.
Here is the memorandum that will be handed over at the Departments of
Health and Trade and Industry today.
Memorandum to the Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, and
Minister of Trade and Industry, Alec Erwin
24th April 2003
Today the Treatment Action Campaign has brought our civil disobedience
campaign to the doors of those we hold most responsible for the failure
of the South African government to manage the HIV/AIDS epidemic: the
Departments of Health and Trade and Industry. Also today, civil society
organisations around the world are joining in actions to express their
dismay at the failure of South Africa's democratically elected
government, for which many of them campaigned, to care for poor people
who do not have access to life-saving medicines and who experience the
full burden of a collapsing, neglected health-care system. Many
activists on the African continent are also participating out of
solidarity, but also because they realise that if South Africa makes
progress in treating people with HIV/AIDS and in making medicines more
accessible, it will benefit their country's responses to HIV/AIDS.
Indeed, South Africa should be leading the continent in the struggle
against this epidemic. Instead, our government's response is still
characterised by denial, deceit and delays.
Since the Cabinet Statement of 17 April 2002, about 200,000 people have
died of HIV/AIDS. This year, on average, 600 people will die of
HIV/AIDS a day and over 1,500 new infections are occurring daily. Our
graveyards are filling up with young people. The terrible crisis
described by these statistics continues because of your failure to act.
We condemn your plethora of confusing, unscientific statements that
question the safety and efficacy of antiretroviral medicines and your
misuse of the hunger of people to create a false dichotomy between
nutrition and medicine.
For TAC volunteers, the above statistics are expressed in real loss.
Some of us participating today are dying. Others are too ill to join
and watch our actions from sick-beds in hospitals and at home. In the
last three weeks, at least seven of our comrades have died. You should
know the names of some of them, because you bear a large part of the
responsibility for their deaths: Edward Mabunda, Charlene Wilson,
Kebareng Moeketsi, Mxolifi Kohlakala, Mzokuhle Fanayi and two others
whose families have not given us permission to release their names
because of the stigma of HIV that is perpetuated in no small part by
the confusion our government encourages.
Both of you are fully aware of the urgency of the crisis of HIV/AIDS in
South Africa. Yet, Minster Erwin has not responded to a memorandum we
delivered to the Director-General of Trade and Industry in a meeting on
14 February 2001 in which we requested the DTI to begin requesting
voluntary licenses on many essential medicines and to pursue compulsory
licenses if these requests were not met. We welcome news of a plan to
develop local capacity for the production of medicines for HIV, TB and
malaria. But in the meantime you should use the capacity that already
exists in the private generic sector and also import from Brazil, India
and Thailand. Minister Tshabalala-Msimang has not responded to numerous
memoranda. Neither of you responded to the memorandum handed over at
Parliament by nearly 15,000 people on 14 February 2003.
If this crisis of political and moral leadership continues we will
continue our civil disobedience campaign. Some of the actions we will
Occupying the Health Professions Council SA and the SA Nursing Council.
Both have failed to offer any leadership in this epidemic, and have
often countenanced discrimination against patients with HIV. We will
also ask them to strike Minister Tshabalala-Msimang and her adviser Dr
Mhlongo from the doctor's role. We demand that MEC Manana be
deregistered as a nurse.
Disrupting speeches of both ministers.
Organising international events that call on the South African
government to save lives and revive its huge reputation for morality
and dignity. In this regard, you are aware that last week the Minister
of Finance was greeted at Harvard University with protests and
questions about government's failure to implement a treatment and
Initiating a new legal action to get government to implement its
We do not want to take these actions; they are not a pleasure for us.
We want to work constructively with all levels of government to treat
and prevention HIV and to build a better health-care system.
Unfortunately, your failure to act, while thousands die unnecessarily,
leaves us with no option but to continue civil disobedience so that you
may feel a small fraction of the discomfort felt by the millions of
poor who are sick and depend totally on the South African health-care
Once more, we call on you to meet your responsibilities by:
Returning to NEDLAC so that the NEDLAC Framework Agreement for an
HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention Plan can be signed.
Making an irreversible, unequivocal commitment to making antiretroviral
therapy available in the public health sector.
Taking steps to obtain voluntary or compulsory licenses for the
immediate importation and production of essential generic HIV/AIDS
Immediately signing the Global Fund agreements.
We repeat what we have made clear on numerous occasions in the past:
whenever you do what is right, we will assist you and mobilize
community campaigns for better health-care. We will intensify pressure
on the pharmaceutical industry to end its profiteering and muster all
our strength here and abroad to get the international community to make
its fair contribution towards alleviating the epidemic. It is tragic
that your negligence gives the pharmaceutical industry and the
governments of rich countries an excuse to fail to meet their moral
obligations. We urge you to lead by example, to do the right thing:
Save lives and Implement an HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention plan
(Different people in different provinces)