STATEMENT ISSUED BY ANNELIZÉ VAN WYK, MP
ANC Government is demonstrating little commitment to addressing the HIV/AIDS
pandemic. Confirmation of this lack of commitment is illustrated by
Minister Manuel's reply to a parliamentary question from Dr Gerhard
Koornhof, UDM spokesperson for Finance. A recently released analysis of
IMF/World Bank research by renowned economist Dawie Roodt, illustrates the
apocalyptic tragedy that faces South Africa if we do not immediately respond to
Minister Manuel states that, "the economic impact of HIV/AIDS is extremely
difficult to predict with accuracy at this stage", also that "it is to
early to assess how the country's economic policies will be influenced by the
epidemic". Maria Ramos, treasury DG, reportedly told the Parliamentary
Finance Committee, regarding the future impact of the pandemic that, "at
the moment we just don't know." These statements along with the pathetic
1.5% real growth in the Health budget for the next 3 years (which translates
into a per capita decline) comes as a huge shock to a country already poised for
disaster due to HIV/AIDS. In effect Government is telling us that until (if
ever) they have concrete "facts" on the impact of HIV/AIDS there will
be no concerted effort. Ironically, the Minister contradicts such thinking
in his parliamentary reply when he states that, "the trajectory of
the disease will depend crucially on the policy responses and reactions of
Government and business over the next few years." The Minister
concedes that a number of current activities will be intensified, these
being health care provision, poverty relief and human resource
development. Sadly these are some of the worst areas of performance by
some members of Government seem to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease the whole
ANC Government is definitely suffering from head-in-sand disease. The argument
that a better understanding of the future impact of HIV/AIDS is required before
action is taken can only come from those who have placed their heads in the sand
to avoid facing reality. Dawie Roodt, respected economist, in his analysis of
IMF/World Bank research comes to the following conclusions regarding the future
impact of HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS will have a substantial effect on a range of economic aggregates
including GDP growth, poverty and income inequality, labour supply,
domestic savings and productivity.
2. The initial impact will be on health care costs, erosion of the tax base and
costs associated with public sector workers infected with HIV/AIDS.
3. Loss of qualified employees in the public sector will result in declining
productivity and the quality of public services.
4. In the private sector similar HIV/AIDS related costs can be between 50%
and 100% of an employee's salary.
5. Some estimates suggest that up to a quarter of the skilled and educated
population could be lost.
6. School dropouts will increase, as children are expected to attend to sick
7. Domestic savings will fall, as households spend more time and money to
attend to sick relatives. The private sector will also save less due to a drop
in productivity and increased pressure on profits.
8. Worst affected countries will experience a 1% to 2% drop in economic growth
9. Nearly 20% of all SA children could be orphans within 10 years.
10. Unemployment could increase even further as employers mechanize rather
than replace workers lost to HIV/AIDS.
11. HIV/AIDS is 3 times more prevalent amongst lower skilled workers,
meaning that the wages of skilled labour is likely to increase whilst the income
of the poor are reduced.
It is abundantly clear from these figures that it is especially the poor,
the weak and the youth of South Africa who will suffer the most. These figures
also illustrate the undeniable fact that HIV/AIDS will affect every single
government department, and yet no integrated response between all departments
have been established.
The lack of an integrated plan across all departments, driven by adequate
budgeting, is destroying South Africa's democratic gains of the past few
years. Future generations (the few that survive) may judge the behaviour
of the ANC Government in the past 12 months as nothing other than
Annelizé van Wyk, MP
UDM Parliamentary Caucus Liaison
8 November 2000