Dear President Mbeki and Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka: PLEASE TAKE URGENT ACTION NOW!

none 25 Aug 2006 – 10:34 (modified on 19 Sep 2006 – 15:01)

by mlepeska

Please see below letter written by the African Civil Society Coalition regarding protesting the retrogressive policies and actions of your government’s poor response to the HIV and AIDS crisis in your country.

August 23 2006

President Thabo Mbeki Phone: 012 300 5200 Private Bag X1000 Fax: 012 323 8246 / 012 323 6080 ,PRETORIA 0001 012 300 5775 / 012 323 6080,South Africa Email: [email protected]

Deputy President Phone: 012 300 5200/5271 Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Fax: 012 323 3114 / 012 300 5781,Private Bag X1000

PRETORIA, 0001 South Africa

Dear President Mbeki and Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka:


The African Civil Society Coalition is a movement of African NGOs, community-based organisations and international civil society organizations committed to advancing universal access by all Africans to HIV and AIDS prevention, care treatment and support.

We are writing you today to join the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and other civil society groups around the world, in protesting the retrogressive policies and actions of your government’s poor response to the HIV and AIDS crisis in your country.

TAC has called for a Global Day of Action on Thursday, August 24 to protest the refusal of the South African government to roll out treatment programmes fast enough and has called for the resignation of health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

In supporting this call, the African Civil Society Coalition is fully conversant with the ruinous impact that Minister Manto’s ambivalent positions towards HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment is costing South Africa in terms of human lives.

We believe that Minister Manto has had the opportunity to demonstrate leadership to her people in the fight against AIDS, but she has consistently flunked it by her refusal to provide scientifically-proven, time-tested treatment options to South Africans. It is in the best interest of South Africa, and indeed of Africa, that her harmful policies are not allowed to cost the continent any more avoidable HIV-related deaths.

South Africa has about 5.5 million people living with HIV, the highest in the world. Of these numbers, up to 800,000 need urgent antiretroviral treatment, according to the World Health Organisation. (WHO) Sadly, despite the availability of local resources to procure and distribute this life-saving treatment to everyone who needs, the South African government has provided treatment for only about 175,000. This slow response is traceable to the health minister’s preference for garlic, beetroot and other vegetables that merely provide basic nutritional support, rather than proven ART drugs that are recommended by WHO and the scientific community, as the best available life-saving treatment for AIDS.

The Coalition believes that South Africa’s response to AIDS is a bad example to the rest of Africa. It is a repudiation of the 2001 and 2006 Abuja Declarations on AIDS signed by African leaders - including President Thabo Mbeki – which commit African states to provide 100 percent access to scientifically-proven HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment services to all who need it.

We respectfully urge you to urgently take the following actions:

Ø Fire Minister Manto immediately, or ask her to resign from her cabinet position

Ø Roll out antiretroviral treatment for all HIV-positive prisoners, as recently ordered by South African courts

Ø Pledge to respect other court rulings on ending the AIDS crisis

Ø Convene a national meeting of all stakeholders to plan for urgent scaling-up of prevention and treatment programmes across South Africa.

We urge you to take these urgent actions to save millions of your South Africans citizens from avoidable deaths. Let South Africa be a shining example to the rest of Africa in its leadership of the fight against AIDS, by adopting a humane, evidence-based response to the HIV and AIDS crisis in your country.

Respectfully yours:

ActionAid International - Africa
African Council of AIDS Service Organisations (AfriCASO)
African Microbicides Advocacy Group (AMAG)

AIDS Rights Alliance of Southern Africa

All-African Conference of Churches

Alliance Rights, Nigeria

Association of Women in Development (AWID), South Africa
Central African Network of AIDS Service Organisations (CANASO)
Christian Relief and Development Organisation, Ethiopia

Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (CISHAN)
CREDO for Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights
Eastern African National Network of AIDS Service Organisations (EANNASO)
FEMNET – African Women’s Development and Comm. Network

Ghana HIV/AIDS Network (GHANET)

Ghana Trade Union Congress

Global Youth Coalition on AIDS (GYCA)
Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria
Network of African People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAP+)

Kenya AIDS NGO Consortium (KANCO)
Kenya OVC Network
National Youth Network on HIV/AIDS (NYNETHA), Nigeria


Network of African Peoples living with HIV (NAP+)

Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPHWAN)
Network of PLWH, Ethiopia

Nigerian HIV Vaccine & Microbicide Advocacy Group

The Centre, Zimbabwe

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
Oxfam International
Panos Institute Global AIDS Programme

Santayalla Support Group, Togo
Southern African AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS)
Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA)
Women and AIDS Support Network, Zimbabwe

Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK)

World AIDS Campaign