On 28 June 2013 the Treatment Action Campaign’s (TAC) National Council (NC) met in Muizenberg, Cape Town, for a special meeting to consider ways in which to strengthen the organisation’s internal accountability and governance structures. The NC was attended by six (out of seven) of TAC’s Provincial leaders as well as by representatives of the people living with AIDS and women’s sectors, the General Secretary, Deputy general secretary, Deputy Chair and Treasurer.
The NC unanimously resolved to establish a Board of Directors for the organisation. The NC noted the need to introduce independent oversight of TAC’s campaigns, strategies, internal management and governance and finances. It agreed that although the NC, in terms of TAC’s constitution, has been the highest decision-making body in the periods between TAC’s five-yearly national Congresses, the NC is made up of activists who sometimes lack the required independence and the managerial skills to oversee and constructively critique our operations.
We believe that by appointing a Board of Directors TAC, as a social movement, is once again leading the way by accepting for itself the highest standards of accountability, transparency and governance.
We are grateful that several persons of calibre and experience have already agreed to sit on the new Board of Directors, including Cde Thembeka Gwagwa, Mr Qondisa Ngwenya (Octagon), Ms Jane Barrett (COSATU), Mr Moray Hathorn (Webber Wentzel) and Dr Eric Goemare (MSF). A further four Directors are being approached. In addition, TAC’s General Secretary, Treasurer and the Chairperson of the national Council will be ex-officio members of the Board.
As a result of this resolution, TAC will amend its Constitution, particularly the section that deals with the powers and duties of the NC, as several of these powers have now been transferred to the Board of Directors. The NC will continue to exist as a forum where TAC’s provinces and key partners can meet to report on campaigns, debate strategy and make decisions about day to day campaigns. The NC will also report directly to each meeting of the Board and take responsibility to implement its resolutions together with the General Secretary and the staff of TAC.
The NC meeting of June 28 also received reports from several Provinces and discussed several of TAC’s ongoing campaigns.
The NC congratulated our activists in the OR Tambo District of the Eastern Cape whose campaign to expose the closing of Village Clinic in Lusikisiki has led to the Minister of Health intervening directly to establish a temporary clinic, but also to commit to building a new Day Hospital in Lusikisiki at a cost of R148 million rand.
The NC noted the World Health Organization’s (WHO) prequalification of the Prepex circumcision device. The NC expressed its hope that the Kwazulu-Natal provincial Department of Health will replace the unsafe TaraKLamp circumcision device with the much safer Prepex device. The Tara KLamp is not WHO prequalified and has been shown to be unsafe in the only randomised controlled trial conducted on its use in young men. TAC has campaigned against the use of the Tara KLamp since June 2010 – including making a complaint to the Public Protector.
Finally, TAC noted that at the sixth South African AIDS Conference held in Durban in June 2013 TAC was awarded the Dira Sengwe award for leadership in AIDS. This award “recognizes exceptional contributions by individuals or organizations in the country in the response to the HIV epidemic”.
The TAC NC will meet again on July 18 & 19. This meeting will start with the NC recognising Nelson Mandela’s birthday and contribution as our democracy’s founding father. Thereafter its business will include discussing the growing problem of essential medicine stock-outs in several provinces; assessing progress in the National Health Insurance pilot districts and preparing an organisational report for the first meeting of the TAC Board of Directors.