Today I attended the AIDS Consortium General meeting that was the subject of attack by NAPWA leaders and members.
Apart from their general unruly and threatening conduct it is necessary to report and condemn the racism that is being formented and encouraged by NAPWA's leadership. The very first comment by a NAPWA member during the meeting included a racist attack on a white member of the AIDS Consortium Executive, Chloe Hardy, who was told that "we are sick of white people sitting at the front of the meeting; it causes us pain." to applause from the NAPWA leaders.
At the end of the meeting Thandoxolo Doro, the national organiser of NAPWA, confronted me aggressively and shouted in front of other people "we are sick of you fucking white racists taking advantage of black people and people with HIV/AIDS." As he and other NAPWA members advanced on me I was removed for my safety from the meeting by an employee of COSATU and others. After the meeting had ended, the NAPWA members toyi-toyied in the meeting room and outside led by NAPWA Director Nkululeko Nxesi, singing "Mark Heywood the white racist has succeeded in dividing black people - that was his agenda all the time." An intervention to stop this by Mazibuko Jara, the Chairperson of the AIDS Consortium, led to a new chant that Jara was the new "black bourgeoisie."
The last person to make a racist attack on me was the Minister of Health who, in April 2003, attacked me in a public speech as the "white man misleading black people in TAC to demonstrate against the government." I believe that the similar language used by the Minister and Nxesi and Doro, with whom she has regular contact, is no coincidence.
TAC's overwhelmingly black membership and people with HIV can speak for themselves in response to the racist attacks on me and them. I believe my record of 20 years of involvement in the liberation struggle in SA, and ten years working for HIV prevention and treatment, does likewise.
Statement of the Executive Committee of the AIDS Consortium
30th March 2004
The AIDS Consortium called its regular monthly general meeting of its members earlier today at COSATU House, Braamfontein.
The meeting was adjourned in order to bring an end to unruly and disruptive behaviour from a group of members of the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA), led by the Director of NAPWA, Nkululeko Nxesi, who were clearly at the meeting to cause disruption.
This meeting was called by the Executive Committee of the AIDS Consortium to discuss the following:
Conclusions of the special audit investigation conducted on the AIDS Consortium
The role of the AIDS Consortium in the implementation of the National Treatment Plan
Invitation to AIDS Consortium members to submit tenders to implement the programme and work of the AIDS Consortium
Membership development and capacity building of the AIDS Consortium
These are critical issues to the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS particularly in the light of the recent announcement of the ARV roll out in Gauteng.
The report of the Executive Committee clearly details the status of the AIDS Consortium on finances, management and the business of the AIDS Consortium. The report clearly shows that the AIDS Consortium is now in a stable financial position. This report includes recommendations from, and conclusion of the recent audit investigation of the AIDS Consortium.
The AIDS Consortium will now proceed to convene a properly constituted general meeting of members of the organisation in order to deal with the above meeting without further disruption from NAPWA. The Executive Committee is also now proceeding with preparations for the AGM.
We will also now effect the decision we took to obtain a court interdict against anyone speaking and seeking to act on behalf of our organisation outside the duly-elected Executive Committee.
In its 12-year history, the AIDS Consortium had never experienced such obvious disruption and continues to call to question the motives for the disruption created by NAPWA representatives when the Consortium itself has led their own process successfully in dealing with restructuring the organisation to address the requirement of donors, the needs and issues of members and the strategic direction of the organisation. The AIDS Consortium condemns the disgraceful behaviour displayed by this group and directly brings into question the intention of NAPWA. We can only surmise that they wanted to prevent The AIDS Consortium from releasing its audit findings and continuing with the process of transparency.
NAPWA representatives who disrupted the meeting had clearly choreographed their disruption in a process of continual objections and disorder. NAPWA representative, Thanduxolo Doro, also made racist attacks on the director of the AIDS Law Project, Mark Heywood, and threatened him with physical violence.
These NAPWA representatives are known to have financial discrepancies and questionable business activities within their own organisations. If these people had legitimate concerns and good intentions to the Consortium there has been a process over the past few months, which has provided information to the membership and partnerships of the organisation. There was also sufficient space in the meeting, as noted in the agenda to address any of this.
It was decided in the best interest of the security of the members and staff of the organisation to adjourn the meeting and the Executive Committee of the Consortium will be confirming the details of the reconvened general members meeting. Since the disrupted meeting The AIDS Consortium has been inundated with messages of support from member organisations, who have all expressed disgust at the behaviour of the NAWPA representatives.
We call on NAPWA to discipline its members including its director and spokesperson, Nkululeko Nxesi and Thanduxolo Doro respectively, who have specifically proved that they are not truthful and worthy to be considered as leaders of a respectable organisation.
In the light of all this the AIDS Consortium strongly believes that there must be a code of conduct covering governance, financial accountability and member-rights agreed to by all publicly funded HIV/AIDS NGOs and that government and donors should insist on maximum transparency and compliance with the code.
COPIES OF THE AUDIT SUMMARY ARE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST FROM THE AIDS CONSORTIUM
Mazibuko K. Jara
Chairperson - Executive Committee
Tel - 083 651 0271
Steering Committee - Executive Committee