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,"
"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
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
"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
"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
"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.