- An estimated 10,000 educators in South Africa are expected to die of HIV/AIDS within the next two years if there is no plan to quickly give anti-retroviral drugs to all needy educators, according to opposition reports. The ANC government is again criticised for not taking the AIDS pandemic seriously.
South Africa's principal opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said that, based on a reply to its parliamentary questioning, it was clear that there is "no coherent plan" to provide anti-retroviral drugs to educators any time soon.
A 2004 survey of Educator Supply and Demand discovered that 12.7 percent of the 350,000 educators in South Africa were HIV-positive. And of this figure, some 22 percent - or about 10,000 persons - needed life-prolonging anti-retrovirals. These educators were said to be so sick that they would die within a short time if they did not receive treatment.
The South African Department of Education was thus asked to establish a workplace AIDS treatment programme. But now, the Department is blamed for procuring some funds from the Presidency Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief without spending a dime on sick educators.
The opposition for years has been after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) for its vague AIDS policies, in particular when it comes to handing out costly anti-retrovirals. DA representatives thus again brought up the question of AIDS drugs from educators during parliamentary sessions.
In another development, Athol Trollip, DA leader of Eastern Cape has become the first person to publicly declare his intention to succeed the party's leader Tony Leon, who recently announced his decision to step down.
"After careful consideration, and having consulted many colleagues across the party, I have decided to make myself available as candidate to succeed Tony Leon as leader of the DA," Mr Trollip said in a statement.
It has been rumoured that Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille and party Chairperson Joe Seremane were reportedly still considering whether or not to join the succession race. The DA will elect a new leader at a congress in May.
Mr Trollip further said his fluency in Xhosa language would be vital for the conservative DA to break the ruling ANC's political dominance. "I plan to lead an offensive into this constituency that will accelerate the growth of our party and directly threaten the ANC hegemony over government outside of the Western Cape," he announced.
"There is a growing movement of disillusioned former ANC voters who feel that they have been duped and let down by the current government," Mr Trollip said, adding that he would take his party's message of freedom and opportunity directly to "these South Africans with a passion and determination that has never before been seen in the DA".
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