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South African Press Association
Aids activists slam military spending by the US

June 24, 2004
South African Aids activists sang and danced through the streets of Cape Town on Thursday as part of a worldwide campaign to get the US government to reduce military spending.

Some 500 marchers made their way to the US consulate in central Cape Town to deliver a letter addressed to President George Bush calling for less spending on the military and more on fighting diseases such as HIV/Aids.

"Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent on the military instead of investing resources in the biggest threat to human security today -- HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, malaria, malnutrition and poverty," said the letter, which was delivered by Aids groups, including the influential lobby group Threatment Action Campaign.

South Africa has more people living with HIV and Aids than any other country in the world: 5,3-million, or one in nine.

The pandemic is expected to affect one in four South Africans by 2010, the year South Africa hosts the World Cup, an event billed as an opportunity to showcase achievements.

"He [Bush] acknowledges the threat of terrorism, however the most important and widespread threats to global security are the ones exacerbated by poverty and lack of development," it said.

Police threw a ring of steel around the US consulate, including a barbed-wire fence, while a spokesperson accepted the letter.

"We may have disagreements about tactics but we have the same goals in mind," Louis Mazel told marchers on behalf of the US government.

He said the US government funded a number of Aids projects around the country.

Other marches also took place in Johannesburg, Durban and East London.