Address by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki
Declaration of Partnership Against Aids, Friday 9 October
President Mandela has asked me to address you on his
behalf. I am honoured to be able to do so.
HIV/AIDS is among us.
It is real. It is spreading
We can only win against HIV/AIDS if we join hands to
save our nation.
For too long we have closed our eyes as a nation, hoping
the truth was not so real.
For many years, we have allowed the HI Virus to spread,
and at a rate in our country which is one of the fastest
in the world.
Every single day a further 1 500 people in South Africa
get infected. To date, more than 3 million people have
THE DANGER IS REAL
Many more face the danger of being affected by HIV/AIDS.
Because it is carried and communicated by other human
beings, it is with us in our work places, in our classrooms
and our lecture halls.
It is there in our church gatherings and other religious
HIV/AIDS walks with us. It travels with us wherever
we go. It is there when we play sport. It is there when
we sing and dance.
Many of us have grieved for orphans left with no one
to fend for them. We have experienced AIDS in the groans
of wasting lives. We have carried it in small and big
coffins to many graveyards.
At times we did not know that we were burying AIDS
victims. At other time we knew, but chose to remain
And when the time comes for each one of us to make
a personal precautionary decision, we fall prey to doubt
and false confidence. We hope that HIV/AIDS is someone
CHANGING OUR WAY OF LIFE
HIV/AIDS is not someone else's problem. It is my problem.
It is your problem.
By allowing it to spread, we face the danger that half
of our youth will not reach adulthood. Their education
will be wasted. The economy will shrink. There will
be a large number of sick people whom the healthy will
not be able to maintain. Our dreams as a people will
HIV spreads mainly through sex.
You have the right to live your life the way you want
But I appeal to the young people, who represent our
country's future, to abstain from sex for as long as
possible. If you decide to engage in sex, use a condom.
In the same way, I appeal to both men and women to
be faithful to each other, but otherwise to use condoms.
The power to defeat the spread of HIV and AIDS lies
in our Partnership - as youth, as women and men, as
business people, as workers, as religious people, as
parents and teachers, as students, as healers, as farmers
and farm workers, at the unemployed and the professionals,
as the rich and the poor - in fact, all of us.
Today, we join hands in this Partnership Against HIV/AIDS,
united in our resolve to save the nation.
As Partners Against AIDS, together we pledge to spread
Everyday every night - wherever we are - we shall let
our families, friends and peers know that they can save
themselves and save the nation, by changing the way
we live and how we love. We shall use every opportunity
openly to discuss the issue of AIDS.
As Partners Against AIDS, together we pledge to care!
We shall work together to care for those living with
HIV/AIDS and for the orphans. They must not be subjected
to discrimination of any kind. They can live productive
lives for many years.
They are human beings like you and me. When we lend
a hand, we build our own humanity, and when we remind
ourselves that, like them, each one of us can become
As Partners Against AIDS, together we pledge to pool
our resources and to commit our brain power!
There is still no cure for HIV and AIDS. Nothing can
prevent infection except our own behaviour.
We shall work together to support medical institutions
to search for a vaccine and a cure. We shall mobilise
all possible resources to spread the message of prevention,
to offer support to those infected and affected, to
destigmatise HIV and AIDS and to continue our search
for a medical solution.
And so today we join hands in the Partnership, fully
aware that our unity is our strength. The simple but
practical action that we take today is tomorrow's insurance
for our nation.
Accordingly, we pledge that wherever we meet and study,
work and sing, play and enjoy one another's company,
we will protect ourselves and our partners against HIV
Together, as Partners Against HIV/AIDS, we can and
I have asked for your time to listen to this urgent
message because there is no other moment but the present,
to take action.
I thank you for your attention and urge you to act