Media invitation: Treatment Action Campaign commemorates 20 years of organising

7 December 2018, Johannesburg – On December 10 2018, South Africa’s foremost social movement, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) turns twenty. It is not a coincidence that December 10th is also International Human Rights Day as well as the day South Africa’s pioneering and pro-poor Constitution was signed by former President Nelson Mandela.

TAC waged a formidable struggle against pharmaceutical companies profiteering from life-saving medicines. We mobilised against the denialism of former President Mbeki and government-sanctioned quackery to save the lives of people who could not afford lifesaving treatment denied by government. We have won victories in the courts, in politics, in clinics and in communities across South Africa. TAC has educated and empowered many thousands of people about the science and treatment of HIV and TB and about our constitutional rights. The late former President Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, Winnie Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among many others, supported TAC’s struggle. Largely because of TAC and its allies, South Africa now has the world’s largest HIV treatment programme – a programme that has likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

TAC invites all journalists to attend commemoration events on the 9th and 10th of December 2018, which will kick off a year of celebrations. TAC will be marking its 20th anniversary with an all-night vigil at the Women’s Jail on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg which will bring together its founders, veteran activists, legal professionals, academics, HIV clinicians, government officials and various allies. The night vigil will be followed by a symbolic march to the Constitutional Court at 09h00 on 10 December. We are calling on allies and activists for social justice to join us.

At the vigil we will recognise and remember many of our comrades, including hundreds of TAC activists who passed away along the road to dignity and better healthcare services. We will hear from old friends and comrades. We will assess the current crisis in our healthcare system and our politics and hear from the current generation of leaders in TAC. We will draw new strength from our togetherness. We will need that strength in the years ahead. The harsh reality is that our struggle for dignity and quality healthcare for all is still far from over. A movement of principled, politically savvy, well-informed and rights aware users of the public healthcare system is needed more than ever. TAC is still that movement.

Speakers at the vigil will include Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron; Director General of Health Precious Matsoso; current TAC General Secretary Anele Yawa; former TAC General Secretary Vuyiseka Dubula; former CEO of the South African National AIDS Council Dr Fareed Abdullah; TAC Chairperson Sibongile Tshabalala, and outgoing Executive Director of SECTION27 and TAC founder Mark Heywood.

When: 9 December 2018
Time: 18h00
Where: Women’s Jail, Constitution Hill, 11 Kotze Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

The vigil will be livestreamed on

For more information, please contact:
Leonorah Mathe: 078 150 0481 or via email: 
Ngqabutho Mpofu: 061 807 6443 or via email:

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