Address On World Aids Day, 1 December
People of South Africa,
Today we mark World AIDS Day. As South Africans, we
participate in the World AIDS Day events as part of
our ongoing support for the Partnership Against AIDS
On this day, we must all join hands as people of South
Africa and of the world against a silent killer that
threatens our lives and the very fabric of our existence.
On this day, we must use this opportunity to make our
family, our friends, our neighbours and our fellow South
Africans conscious of the dangers that HIV/AIDS poses
to every single person in our country and to the health
and future of our entire nation.
We must urge all our youth to protect themselves at
an early age and their loved ones against this disease
by abstaining from sexualactivity as much as possible
by being faithful to their partners or by always using
a condom if they are sexually active.
To the youth of our country, we ask you, who are most
vulnerable to this disease, to think about your future
and the future of our children, before you become involved
in a sexual relationship.
To the men of our country, we ask you to use a condom
if you engage in a sexual relationship which has the
potential of exposing you, your partner or your wife
to the danger of HIV/AIDS, for using a condom is a sign
of respect to your partner, not a sign of mistrust.
Together let us urge everyone in our nation to take
responsibility for their own lives into their own hands
in order to ensure that this killer disease is eradicated
from our society. Every day we are burying more young
people than ever before who have died because of AIDS.
Every day a child suffers and has to learn to fend
for him or herself when a parent dies as a result of
this disease. Every day, when someone, who is infected,
dies, we lose a lifetime of skills and experiences;
we suffer a blow to our economy that we have only just
begun to rebuild.
I believe, therefore, that it is important for all
of us to educate each other about the danger that HIV/AIDS
poses to the socio-economic situation in our country.
HIV/AIDS threatens to undermine our efforts to grow
our economy and build a better life for all our people.
It kills those on whom our society relies to provide
income through agriculture, through mining, in the factories,
those who run our schools and our hospitals, those who
govern our towns and provinces. It worsens the poverty
pervasive in our society when parents who are breadwinners
People of our country,
Every day, more people die as a result of AIDS in sub-Saharan
Africa than anywhere else in the world.
Thus, as we enter the next century, the challenge of
HIV/AIDS is still with us and it is the task of our
present generation of Africans to meet this challenge,
by focusing on ways of preventing the spread of this
disease and by providing care to those who are infected.
There can be no talk of an African renaissance, if
AIDS is at the door of our continent.
We must recognise that the scourge of HIV/AIDS cannot
be dealt with by one country alone. It requires a collective
global effort. The challenge is to seek ways to minimise
its effects, to prepare for its impact and to co-operate
in the finding of long-term solutions.
When the history of our time is written, let it record
the collective efforts of our societies responding to
a threat that put the future of entire nations in the
balance. Let future generations judge us on the adequacy
of our response.
To overcome the challenge that this disease poses,
every one of us must play an active part. If you are
a member of a church or non-governmental organisation
or a school that does not as yet have an HIV/AIDS programme,
see to it that you come together to draw up such a programme.
We must continue to break the silence and talk about
this disease with openness. Those among us, who are
infected, must be encouraged to tell others about their
experiences. This will help to discourage the discrimination
which they have institutions and places of work. Rejection
of those who are suffering is not acceptable; and we
as a nation must offer all the support we can to people
living with HIV/AIDS.
People of South Africa,
As we join hands in a Partnership Against AIDS, we must
believe in our capacity to succeed in our struggle to
stop the spread of this disease.
We must build the Partnership Against AIDS so that
it unites every community in our country into a dynamic
force for changing people's mindsets and behaviours.
Government welcomes the initiatives that are being
taken by the business community and the entire private
sector, women's groups, youth and student groups, the
religious community, sporting organisations and the
many non-governmental organisations to strengthen this
As we join hands today, let us create a truly caring
and humane partnership for health and prosperity for
this will strengthen our efforts in shaping the next
century as our African century.
I thank you.