Address by Deputy President Zuma on
the Occasion of World AIDS Day, Athlone Stadium, Cape
Town, 1 December 2004
The Minister of Health,
Premier of the Western Cape and MECs,
The Mayor of Cape Town Unicity,
Members of the South African National Aids Council,
Compatriots infected and affected by HIV and AIDS,
Fellow South Africans,
We have once again reached this very important day
in our calendar, World Aids Day.
This is the day on which we celebrate progress made
in the battle against the epidemic, while also recommitting
ourselves to double our efforts in the campaign.
The issues I would like us to ponder today are the
- The emancipation of women and the role it can play
in arresting the spread of AIDS.
- Dealing with the challenge of poverty.
- The responsibility of each citizen in the fight
A key feature of our democratic government has been
the quest for the emancipation of women. We are doing
this because of the realisation that our nation building
efforts would be undermined if we do not achieve equality
and empowerment in gender relations, and also if we
do not improve the quality of life of women of all social
classes, and regardless of geographical location.
We have advanced a lot in the last 10 years in terms
of the emancipation of women, but we have certainly
not reached a stage of equality between men and women.
Women are still made vulnerable by men's greater economic
and social power, which impacts on personal relationships.
Due to this socio-economic dependence on men, many women
are left with little or no control over their exposure
to the virus.
The commemoration of World Aids Day takes place during
the important period of the 16 Days of Activism against
violence directed towards women and children.
This campaign has a special significance in the fight
against AIDS, as fear of physical violence or emotional
and psychological abuse from their partners may be one
of the factors which make it difficult for women to
insist on the use of condoms to protect themselves from
There are also cases of women and girl children who
contracted the virus due to rape. Therefore the question
of the emancipation of women continues to be paramount.
Another important intervention is that of the fight
against poverty. We have over the last 10 years achieved
a lot in terms of expanding access to a better life
for all our people. Many now have access to water, electricity,
roads, sanitation and many other services, but many
more are still waiting for these services. We also still
face the challenge of creating jobs.
That is the reason why we are intensifying the fight
against poverty, to improve the living conditions of
our people in an integrated and comprehensive manner.
Many people living with HIV and AIDS cannot act on the
messages of ensuring a good nutrition or taking medication
with meals, as they do not know where their next meal
will come from.
We are continuing with programmes of sustainable socio-economic
development. The interventions include boosting of the
Second Economy where the majority of our people earn
As a short-term intervention, government continues
its programmes of providing social grants to orphans,
assisting with agricultural programmes in various communities
to promote food security, and various other support
mechanisms to home-based care programmes and other initiatives
designed to alleviate suffering.
Other sectors continue with various programmes as well,
within the auspices of the South African National Aids
Council. It is this partnership that enables us to make
the impact we are making as a nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, government and other sectors
within the partnership against AIDS will continue to
play their role. However, this does not take away the
responsibility from each individual.
Therefore today, we urge individual citizens to rededicate
themselves to the fight against AIDS, and to take HIV
and AIDS messages seriously. The messages should begin
to enlist action on a wider scale, and a change in lifestyles
This should start with an acknowledgement and acceptance
that anyone can contract HIV. It does not discriminate
in terms of gender, geographical location, the length
of a relationship with a particular partner, the social
status of the partner and so forth.
The action of each person counts in this war against
AIDS. If everybody takes the messages of abstention,
faithfulness or condom use seriously and act on it,
we can achieve our goal of drastically reducing the
rate of infections.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me also emphasise the need
for us to provide support to the infected and affected.
Nobody should carry this heavy burden alone. People
living with AIDS should not be made to feel like lepers,
and be ostracised by family, friends and colleagues.
Let us rededicate ourselves to accept the reality of
AIDS, and begin to look at the disease positively, and
be part of the solution.
I must also, ladies and gentlemen, salute all the care
givers in our communities - the relatives, friends and
volunteers in hospices and other centres.
We also acknowledge our health personnel who face the
brunt of the disease daily. There are many nurses, doctors,
and other support staff in hospitals, clinics and other
public health centres who are exemplary in the manner
in which they assist and provide support with love and
Ladies and gentlemen, during this season of goodwill,
let us dedicate ourselves to spreading love, care and
support, and to doubling our efforts in the fight against
I thank you all for honouring this World AIDS Day 2004,
in South Africa.
Enquiries : 082 7822 575