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
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.