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Mail and Guardian-Johannesburg
Zuma's revenge
Rehana Rossouw
July 26, 1996
The Sarafina II controversy followed Nkosazana Zuma all the way to the International Conference on Aids in Vancouver.

SARAFINA II followed Health Minister Nkosazana Zuma to Vancouver, where she was invited to deliver the keynote address to the recent 11th International Conference on Aids.

Her address was interrupted by a South African Aids activist who called out in the middle of her speech for an explanation about the controversial play. This was followed by Aids activists chanting "Sarafina! Sarafina".

Zuma's speech included references to her commitment to working with "social structures". The man who interrupted her, Gary Lamont, programme director of Cape Town Aids support group Wola Nani (Embrace), said Aids activists' faith in Zuma is at an "all- time low".

"It was embarrassing to hear her platitudes and misrepresentations. The debacle over the process Zuma followed to get Sarafina II off the ground, the lack of collaboration between government ministries on Aids and her department's refusal to deal with sub-epidemics in Aids has led to just about every Aids agency losing confidence in her," Lamont said.

"There is a deep sense of loss in the NGO community which feels it is no longer involved in the struggle to support people with Aids in South Africa."

Lamont said Wola Nani believed the rift between the department and NGOs active in Aids support could be healed at the department's national Aids conference scheduled for next year.

Lamont said a unified government and NGO response to Aids was essential if the epidemic was to be tackled effectively in South Africa.

The Vancouver conference slogan was "One World, One Hope". For Lamont, the international conference highlighted the absence of world unity and the limited hope offered to his clients in the black township Khayelitsha.

Wola Nani offers support, care and empowerment for people and families affected by HIV and Aids.

"Providing employment is crucial for longer-term interventions. Globally, it is in the poorer communities where you find the highest infections. Social upliftment is the best route to slowing down the spread of Aids."

Lamont said when the Aids epidemic was first predicted in the 1980s, global attention focused on finding a cure and the panic united people. But a decade later that unity was being eroded.

Of the $14-billion spent on Aids research, care and support services globally, only 3% has been spent in sub-Saharan Africa where 70% of all Aids cases in the world are found.