Item 1395 - AIDS Zuma Project

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ZA COM MR-S-1395


AIDS Zuma Project


  • 2002-02-22 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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  • English

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The launch of this Trust represents a very powerful signal of our intentions as a country and a nation to deal decisively with the HIV/AIDS pandemic in all of its aspects.

Deputy President Jacob Zuma must be commended for taking the lead in setting up this Trust to deal with one of the most tragic and heart-rending aspects of HIV/AIDS, namely the plight of children orphaned through AIDS.

In a document provided to us by the Deputy President as background to the formation of the Trust we read the following: "The tragedy of AIDS in South Africa is well documented, and sadly KwaZulu Natal appears to be the epicentre of the pandemic in the southern subcontinent. The growing number of orphans are increasing at an alarming rate and unless action is taken, the figure could exceed 500 000 children below the age of 15 by the end of this decade."

This unequivocal identification of a key aspect of the threat facing us and the call to urgent action by the second most senior member of our government should be a clear signal that the government is determined to deal with HIV/AIDS in a decisive and comprehensive manner.

I had occasion recently to spend an entire day in discussion with the senior officials of the governing party on the government's approach to HIV/AIDS. The President and Deputy President of the country were present at that meeting in their capacities as office-bearers of the organisation. They spent time describing and explaining the policy and approach of the government on this major issue in our national life.

I came away from that daylong meeting, in which I asked searching questions and sought clarification on a number of matters, convinced that government has a comprehensive and well-considered policy and strategy in place.

I said to my colleagues at the meeting what was needed was for the government to communicate very clearly those policies and plans. This initiative by the Deputy President is, I believe, also an important part of that communication and clarification.

One was further heartened to read the advertisement government placed in The Star newspaper yesterday, clearly communicating its position on preventing mother to child transmission. It is perhaps necessary to quote from that advertisement.

"At the International Aids Conference in Durban in July 2000, research was presented on the use of Nevirapine to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Based on these results, Government developed a more comprehensive programme to reduce HIV transmission to babies and to conduct further research on the subject. In May 2001, the first of 18 national research sites began to operate. By the end of 2001, these sites involved 215 clinics and hospitals."

The advertisement further quotes the President as clearly indicating that where an area is in a position to expand its programme it should be free to do so. He is quoted as saying: "In an instance where an area is ready to move, let us moveā€¦ I don't think the health authorities would say let us wait for the slowest. They would have to say, let us make sure that the slowest catch up with the rest."

I spend so much time on referring to what was said because it is so important for us to listen carefully to each other and to understand what is being said. And I am confident that the government shall continue to communicate its message with the clarity contained in that advertisement and in the message the Deputy President is sending out with this project launch today.

In that advertisement the government refers to the critical importance of building partnerships across society in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This initiative led by the Deputy President is another example of such partnership.

We are told that the first donation towards the Trust came from a Durban businessman, Mr Vivian Reddy who donated an initial sum of R250 000; and that this was followed by donations from various other business groups and that the European Union is now backing the project.

We commend and congratulate all of those involved in this partnership. As you rightly comment, Mr Deputy President, this is an effort standing as a symbol of hope, not despair.

And that should be the attitude of our entire country as we combat HIV/AIDS. We often speak out against the stigmatisation of people affected by HIV/AIDS. It is important also that we develop the national consciousness of not thinking in despairing terms about ourselves when considering the incidence of HIV/AIDS. We have identified the pandemic; we are increasingly aware of its various effects; and we are moving forward as a nation with the compassion and resolve to build a better future.

It is through that attitude that we defeated apartheid, and it is that attitude that is called upon once more and that is in increasing measure reasserting itself in this war against HIV/AIDS. We then quoted and believed in the slogan "freedom in our lifetime". That belief is once more necessary and this project is one based on such confidence and faith.

Our children are our future. To care for these young orphans is an act of immense national compassion. We owe it not to them merely; we owe it to ourselves as a nation and a people.

We wish you well in this great effort, Mister Deputy President and all of those involved. With efforts like these as part of our comprehensive strategy against HIV/AIDS, we know that we shall overcome.

I thank you for the hope you bring to our nation.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 02/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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