Wednesday, November 30, 2005

SA 'accepting Aids as reality'

Nearly half of South Africans aged 15 and older find nothing wrong with marrying an HIV-positive person and would not have a problem having sex with them.

This is according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation-commissioned Second South African HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communications Survey released on Wednesday, on the eve of World Aids Day.

"These results suggest that South Africans are accepting HIV/Aids as a reality in South Africa and that stigmatisation in society is becoming less of a factor, especially in urban areas," said principal investigator Olive Shisana, CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council.

The study found that 90,7% of South Africans polled were willing to care for HIV-positive family members and that 79,8% were against the exclusion of HIV-positive children from schools.

Although South Africans acknowledged the government's efforts in dealing with HIV/Aids, a significant number were unhappy with the financial and human resources allocated to dealing with the scourge.

However, only 47% of male, employed respondents and 44,2% of working women -- 50% of them blacks and coloureds, and less than 40% whites and Indians -- were willing to pay an Aids tax.

A "worrying trend" is confusion among older South Africans about whether HIV cause Aids, the effectiveness of condoms in curbing infections, and the purpose of anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment.

It is unlikely this could be attributed to the debate over the effectiveness of ARVs between vitamin salesman Matthias Rath and the Treatment Action Campaign, said Warren Parker, of the Centre for Aids Development Research and Evaluation. While this could be a contributing factor, the cause is more likely "general misunderstanding", he said.

The study found that 66% of those interviewed did not think they were at risk of being infected -- because they were faithful to one partner, trusted their partner and always used condoms.

However, some of these respondents were later found to be HIV-positive in tests conducted as part of the study.

"Put it in another way, over two million people who are HIV-positive in South Africa do not think they are at risk. This means they may be unaware of their risk of potentially infecting others," said Shisana. -- Sapa

Monday, November 21, 2005

DA opposes air-force training deal with Zim

21 November 2005 02:49

The opposition Democratic Alliance party has urged the government not to use Zimbabwean flying instructors to train South African Air Force (SAAF) pilots.

"The proposal is severely flawed on a number of accounts," said DA defence spokesperson Rafeek Shah, questioning if Zimbabwean Air Force instructors have sufficient knowledge of, or experience with, SAAF aircraft.

"They, for example, have no experience of our most basic trainer aircraft, the Astra Pilatus," he said in a statement released on Monday.

His concerns followed a military agreement signed last Thursday between Zimbabwe and South Africa under which Zimbabwean flying instructors will train SAAF pilots.

"Given that there are not even enough trained South African personnel to train pilots on the forthcoming Hawks, it is highly unlikely that the Zimbabweans will be able to offer training assistance on these aircraft, let alone the even more sophisticated Gripen fighter jets," Shah said.

He said these fighters, part of the country's controversial arms-acquisition process, have highly sophisticated avionics, "much more advanced than anything the Zimbabweans would have been exposed to".

He said there is every chance that as a result of this agreement, the South African taxpayer will have to pay for Zimbabwean pilots to be trained on the new jets in order to train South African cadets.

"It is morally bankrupt for South Africa to recruit instructors from the Zimbabwean military given its appalling human rights record. It is truly bizarre that instead of sending a clear message that human rights abuses will not be tolerated, we have chosen to enter even closer cooperation," he said. -- Sapa

Friday, November 18, 2005

SA to work with Zimbabwe's spies

South African and Zimbabwe have signed an agreement to increase co-operation on defence and security matters.

The two neighbours undertook to share security information and to co-operate in enforcing immigration laws.

After the signing, South Africa's intelligence minister scolded a journalist who raised questions about Zimbabwe's record on human rights.

Details of the deal were not released but Zimbabwe's secret police is accused of torturing opposition activists.

South Africa is a key player in attempts to negotiate an end to Zimbabwe's political crisis.

President Thabo Mbeki has been criticised at home and abroad for not putting more pressure on President Robert Mugabe's government to end abuses.

Zimbabwe prayers

"This week's historic meeting further consolidates a long-standing socio-political and economic relationship between our two countries," South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils said at the signing of the agreement in Cape Town on Thursday.

After the signing, a journalist asked Mr Kasrils how South Africa, with a "good human rights track record", could sign agreements with Zimbabwe, which had a "poor human rights record".

Mr Kasrils apologised to his Zimbabwean counterpart, Didymus Mutasa, for the question.

"We have very strong ties with our neighbour and we are indebted to our neighbour for achieving freedom and liberty," Mr Kasrils said.

Mr Mutasa suggested praying for the journalist.

"Lord forgive him for he does not know what he is saying," Mr Mutasa said.

Numerous activists from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have said they have been detained and assaulted by Zimbabwe's secret police - the Central Intelligence Organisation.

Thursday's agreement also provides for South Africa pilots and instructors to be trained in Zimbabwe.


Also on Thursday, Zimbabwean and international human rights groups called on the African Union to speak out against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

"The silence of African leaders on Zimbabwe represents a failure to honour their commitments to the human rights of ordinary Africans," said a statement from a human rights coalition that includes Amnesty International, Zimbabwe's Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions and Zimbabwe Lawyers or Human Rights.

"Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have seen their homes demolished. Now desperate, displaced and homeless people are being denied the aid they so badly need - and forced evictions and demolitions continue to take place."

The UN says 700,000 people were affected by a Zimbabwe government clampdown on illegal housing and trading earlier this year.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/11/18 11:19:11 GMT


*This is the extent of South Africa's unholy alliance with Robert Mugabe's terror-regime.