News 24, Buthelezi: Aids destroyed us, 17 August 2004

Cape Town - Only the naive can think they are safe from HIV/Aids because it is confined to the poor or to homosexuals, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Tuesday.

He told parliament: "Only the most naive can continue to believe they are not going to be directly or indirectly affected by HIV/Aids because of its being allegedly limited to the poorer reaches of our nation, or those with particular sexual orientations."

Two of Buthelezi's children - daughter Princess Mandisi Sibukakonke and son Prince Nelisuzulu Benedict Buthelezi - died recently from Aids-related diseases.

"HIV/Aids has placed me on my knees and destroyed my family, in spite of the lifestyle stringently maintained by my wife and me and the social status we enjoy," he said.

"In the past 2½ months I have buried two of my own children because of HIV/Aids...

"Like many other South Africans, through no fault of their own, they fell victims to this pandemic."

'Leadership has been disastrous'

Buthelezi said South Africa was fighting a war against HIV/Aids, and required strong leadership to survive.

"Until now, the leadership in the war against HIV/Aids has been disastrous and has compounded the problem," he said.

"Similar leadership provided in respect of a war against an external enemy would cause people to openly talk about treason and collusion with the invader," he said.

Buthelezi said South Africans has been "equally betrayed by a leadership which had not made HIV/Aids a national emergency and (by) absolute priority."

He said Aids, as well as crime, unemployment and poverty, should be treated as a national crisis, receiving "the overwhelming allocation of public spending".

He also called on parliament to set aside one day a month "for a dedicated session, to deliberate on the progress that the executive and... parliamentarians, are making in our nation and community in the fight against HIV/Aids."

Edited by Iaine Harper






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