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South African Press Association

Population to Significantly Drop Due to AIDS


The South African population, which was expected to peak at 46-million in 2005, could then drop by 21-million by 2025 due to HIV/Aids, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Saturday.

In a speech prepared for delivery at the 28th IFP annual general conference, Buthelezi said: "There are no words which can overstate the challenge which HIV/Aids has posed to all of us."

Buthelezi said HIV/Aids was likely to impose more suffering South Africans than "all of the conflicts our country has been witness to in the past 300 years."

"Each and every segment of our industry stands to be disrupted by HIV/Aids," Buthelezi said.

"Each of our communities and families are exposed to its suffering and tragedy."

South Africa had 44,8-million inhabitants in October 2001, according to the latest census figures released by Statistics South Africa in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Buthelezi said the IFP National Council instructed KwaZulu-Natal premier Lionel Mtshali to distribute nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus. This move, when it was made, was against national government policies.

"However, the ...order was not sufficient and the premier had to join in a litigation before the Constitutional Court to ensure that the children could be saved," Buthelezi said.

"I have no words to explain to myself the absurdity and tragedy of a court of law having to order a recalcitrant government to do what basic conscience dictates.

"The IFP cannot be a bystander while the war on HIV/Aids exacts its enormous toll of unnecessary casualties," he said.

Buthelezi, who is also home affairs minister, said he was not concerned about whether the IFP should stay in the government of national unity.

"But I am much more concerned about how we should stay in it, if we are to stay in it," he said. "Our democracy is withering.

"There are very serious problems affecting our future which cannot be solved by operating in the same fashion as we have done thus far and, either those who are in charge must change their ways or it is in the interest of the country to change those who are in charge.

Buthelezi said the IFP was participating in the government of national unity at the pleasure of President Thabo Mbeki, and would leave Cabinet if Mbeki so wished.

"We will leave ...(if he wanted them to), and we shall do so graciously with no grudge, threat nor criticism," he said.

"Circumstances have changed the political landscape of South Africa."

"I am working with President Mbeki and his Cabinet in spite of many difficulties and profound policy differences. It is not easy for me personally.

"I had to endure many humiliations. I have sometimes been treated with contempt.

Time and again my role has been belittled and, with mine, that of my IFP colleagues.

"However, we remained in that Cabinet because we understood that the two fundamental reasons which brought us to accept President Mbeki's invitation in 1999, are still as valid now s they were then," he said.

Buthelezi said the two reasons the IFP participated in the government of national unity were reconciliation and good governance.


South African Press Association (Johannesburg) provides news to news organizations around the world. 

Information in this article was accurate in July 12, 2003. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.