The little commitment of the ANC government to addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic can be seen as nothing other than aiding and abetting the destruction of a nation. While the ANC seems hell-bent upon convincing us that the problem is not so serious, the reality speaks for itself. A vivid example being the reported passing away in the past week of 5 members of the Treatment Action Campaign, allegedly of HIV/AIDS related illnesses. These people deserve accolades for their selfless battle to ensure the provision of HIV/AIDS treatment for others. Theirs' is an example of commitment and  bravery in the face of death, stigmatisation and silly Presidential semantic games.

The social and economic impact of HIV/AIDS on South Africa will be enormous.  Our conclusions are confirmed by a recently released analysis of IMF/World Bank research by renowned economist Dawie Roodt. The longer the pandemic is ignored the greater the impact on the economy. The greater the impact on the economy the more difficult it becomes to address the pandemic. The costs of addressing HIV/AIDS will escalate whilst the economy's ability to support the costs decreases. In short we are tottering on the edge of an abyss.

The fight against HIV/AIDS cannot be left to the whims of ANC-controlled National and Provincial government. It is at Local Government level that voters now have a choice to appoint those who are willing to address HIV/AIDS. Although Local Government is the ideal place to turn the tide against the pandemic we see in the Medium Term budget for the next three years the same lack of funding and recognition for Local Government that has characterised the past six years of ANC rule.

In effect the ANC is telling us that until (if ever) they have concrete  "facts" regarding the impact of HIV/AIDS there will be no concerted effort. Ironically, the Minister of Finance contradicted such thinking recently when he said "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 Government, especially at Local Government level.

The reality of HIV/AIDS is:

1. 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 relatives.

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. UNAIDS predict SA could lose 17% of its economic growth in the next 10 years due to HIV/AIDS.

9. Nearly 20% of all SA children could be orphans within 10 years. According to the projections undertaken by Metropolitan Life for the NGO LoveLife, HIV/AIDS will have orphaned 2 million children by the year 2010 (infection predictions by the IMF/World Bank indicate that this may be a conservative estimate).

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 because they represent a high risk group for employers.

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 yet judge the behaviour of the ANC Government in the past 12 months as nothing other than genocide. 

Regarding HIV/AIDS and Local Government the UDM commits itself to the following action in municipalities that we control after the elections: 

1. Prevention-and-awareness clinics, with mobile "stations" regularly visiting schools and public places. These clinics will advocate safe sexual behaviour and provide free (and confidential when requested) counselling, advice and HIV/AIDS (as well as other venereal disease) testing. A referral system to ensure that those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are taken up in the healthcare system and given proper support.

2. HIV/AIDS hospices to create a safe and non-threatening and supportive environment for people living with HIV/AIDS. These hospices will provide treatment for sufferers, as well as counselling and guidance for people living with HIV/AIDS and their partners, family and friends. It is vital to help the people affected to come to terms with the disease and learn to carry on with their lives in the best possible manner. Such a hospice will not aim to replace the home/family of those suffering from HIV/AIDS, but rather as a gathering place, treatment place, and shelter of last resort for those who have nothing or have been ostracised.

The UDM will encourage voters to give the ANC a wake-up call on the 5th of December:


Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

30 November 2000