HIV and AIDS

TAC reviews disobedience campaign

In a move that could be viewed as another positive step towards the roll out of anti-retroviral treatment for HIV positive adults, activists have reviewed their December 1 deadline and have agreed to give Government until the end of February to adopt a national treatment plan.

In a move that could be viewed as another positive step towards the roll out of anti-retroviral treatment for HIV positive adults, activists have reviewed their December 1 deadline and have agreed to give Government until the end of February to adopt a national treatment plan.

The Treatment Action Campaign revealed this week that it had decided to put its civil disobedience campaign on hold after meeting with deputy president Jacob Zuma last month.

“In our meeting with the Deputy President he requested that the TAC give government until February to adopt a treatment plan.

“While we believe it is feasible to reach agreement on a treatment plan by December 1, via the current negotiations at NEDLAC, TAC has taken a decision – following the Deputy President’s request – to postpone civil disobedience until the end of February, unless a treatment plan is adopted by government,” said Nathan Geffen, TAC spokesperson.

TAC’s national executive met in October with Zuma, his legal and HIV/AIDS advisors and director-general of health Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba at Tuynhuys.

The meeting was in response to several letters TAC had sent to president Thabo Mbeki and Zuma over the last two months. TAC had made it clear in the past that it was preparing for a rolling campaign of non-violent civil disobedience, if the government failed to commit to a national treatment plan by December 1.

The activist group also revealed that a new legal challenge to the drug companies through the Competition Commission would have been supplemented by possible legal action on a treatment plan against government if it had failed to deliver before March next year.

TAC allies in the labour movement, including the Congress of SA Trade Unions, have begun a process of good faith negotiations with government at NEDLAC. A special committee has also been set up at NEDLAC to draft a framework agreement by December 1. Government is actively participating in with the work of that committee, a significant breakthrough for TAC and its allies.

TAC reported in a discussion document distributed to its members that the most serious discussion with Zuma had centred on the treatment plan. “It is clear that government understands the necessity of a treatment plan in the context of expanding the principle of the Five-Year Strategic Plan and other instruments,” TAC said.

In another move TAC invited government to endorse the complaint to the Competition Commission against the drug companies. Specifically, it demanded that the Ministry of Trade and Industry put its weight behind the complaint, which centres on the high price of lifesaving medicines.

TAC said in the discussion document that there was “a serious chance to win a treatment plan” and that it was giving government its last chance to prove that it would allow every person with HIV/AIDS the right to life.

“TAC will not rest until we have achieved a treatment plan as a monument to all our people who have died of AIDS-related illnesses.”

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Anso Thom