The fight against the spread of HIV and Aids was one that needed a concerted
effort from all sectors of society, Deputy President Jacob Zuma said in Parow
near Cape Town on Saturday.
Speaking at a Men's Imbizo aimed at highlighting the commitment by men to the
struggle against the spread of the disease, he said the Partnership Against
Aids, launched in October 1998, was being strengthened by bringing men as
partners into the national campaign.
"We are particularly pleased to be here today, to witness the strengthening of
the Men's Partnership Against Aids," Zuma said.
He said this was significant in view of the role men played in society, the
positive role that men could and should play in combating the spread of the
disease, and in supporting their loved ones and friends.
"When we fought against the system of apartheid, we did that as a united force,
and as a result we managed to bring apartheid down."
Zuma said the theme of the Men's Imbizo 'South African Men Care Enough To Act'
should not only be a theme or a slogan, but should be translated into action
that would lead to significant results in the fight against the abuse of women
and children, and against the spread of HIV and Aids.
"One critical challenge that we face is to ensure that our deliberations are
communicated to all South Africans in general, and men in particular, so that
they can provide a model for the kind of man a South African man should be."
Zuma said there were a number of compelling reasons why South African men should
be more involved in the fight against the pandemic.
A number of special circumstances placed men at a higher risk of contracting
HIV, such as men who worked far away from home and did not live with their
families, and men in environments that were exclusively male, such as prisons.
"We are also aware of the unequal power relations between men and women in the
home, despite our exemplary Constitution, which enshrines equality for men and
women," Zuma said.
"Many women are economically and socially dependent on men, and this makes them
vulnerable and unable to negotiate safe behaviour."
This placed a heavy responsibility on all men to act responsibly, and use the
power they had to protect rather than endanger the lives of their loved ones.
Zuma said the government was encouraged that commitments made at the Men's
Imbizo would take the Partnership Against Aids further.
"It is our belief that HIV and Aids, and the abuse of women and children are
challenges that can only be addressed if we all act together as a united force,"