Harry Belafonte verteidigt Mbeki

Südafrikas Präsident Thabo Mbeki, der für seine Ansichten zu HIV und AIDS und seine Einsetzung eines Expertengremiums weltweit herbe Kritik erntet, hat offenbar einen prominenten Unterstützer gefunden: Harry Belafonte, den Sänger, Schauspieler und Menschenrechtsaktivisten. In seiner Funktion als UN Botschafter hat er Mbeki getroffen und sich anschließend lobend über die ganzheitliche Sicht Mbekis geäußert.

Nicht übersehen werden sollte jedoch, daß trotz des angeblich sehr offenen Gesprächs die Frage, ob HIV AIDS verursacht, nicht zur Sprache kam, und daß Belafonte insoweit den Präsidenten "nach dem, was ich in der Presse darüber gelesen habe, nicht verteidigen will". Er meint jedoch, daß Mbeki ungeachtet dieses einzelnen Aspekts in der Gesamtheit seiner Ansichten Unterstützung verdient. Beide stimmen darin überein, daß sozialen Faktoren wie der großen Armut eine große Rolle zukommt, und das AIDS-Problem nicht auf die Medizin reduziert werden kann.

Die Ansicht Belafontes zu HIV ist aber ohnehin zweitrangig, entscheidend ist, daß Mbeki und die AIDS-Kritik nicht aus dem Blickfeld verschwinden.

Es folgen zwei Artikel zum Thema, leider auf Englisch.

While Thabo Mbeki’s contention that Aids can only be tackled in the context of other social problems was discussed, the president’s public questioning of the link between HIV and Aids was not raised, Belafonte said. While Belafonte said that he "won’t defend the President from what I’ve read" in the papers, he indicated that Mbeki's views needed to be seen in totality. "It is a little unfair to consider just one aspect of his views in isolation," Belafonte said.

Protest as star lauds president on AIDS

CAPE TOWN Singer, film actor and human rights activist Harry Belafonte yesterday praised President Thabo Mbeki's stance on HIV/AIDS, and offered to campaign internationally to promote SA.

The visiting star's special address to Parliament's portfolio committee on social development spurred Democratic Party MP Sandra Botha and her New National Party colleague, Phillipus Nel, to walk out in protest.

Belafonte, who is visiting SA as a United Nations goodwill ambassador, praised SA's efforts to fight AIDS and poverty. He said Mbeki had helped raise awareness and debate on the scourge.

He praised AIDS projects in SA such as Soul City and LoveLife, of which he said the western world was unaware.

"There is a perception that Africans are stupid, irresponsible, corrupt and lazy people, but we are in this world to stay and are not going anywhere," he said.

Belafonte, who will speak at a special UN conference next week, came to SA to gain first-hand knowledge about the dreaded disease.

He held talks with former President Nelson Mandela, Mbeki and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"Many people (in the west) have negative perceptions about SA and its realities because they have been misinformed, but there are those who abstain from the country because they have other agendas. If we leave ourselves to clinical definitions only, we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to profit-making opportunists," Belafonte said.

He vowed to raise funds overseas for development projects in rural areas. "I have been to rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, and was very impressed by the crafts and skills of the women there."

Belafonte lamented how South Africans, after fighting so hard against apartheid, were being distracted from focusing on rebuilding the country by AIDS. "Democracy is like a flower garden. If every one of us does not tend it, we will harvest nothing but weeds," he said.

Jun 19 2001 12:00:00:000AM Simphiwe Xako Business Day 1st Edition

Wednesday 20 June 2001






Mbeki's Aids views get UN forum

By Rob Rose

President Thabo Mbeki’s views on HIV/Aids will be delivered to a global audience when Harry Belafonte addresses the United Nations special assembly on HIV/Aids in New York next week.

Belafonte, the goodwill ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), met Mbeki during a 12-day tour to South Africa.

Belafonte said he would take "all the experience and analysis being given by responsible leaders in South Africa" and present this to the United Nations secretary-general as well as to delegates at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/Aids taking place in New York from June 25 to 27.

While in South Africa, the former singer met with Mbeki, officials from the Department of Health and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on social development.

Belafonte told a press briefing in Sandton that Mbeki "did not hesitate to tell me his point of view on a host of issues, starting with HIV/Aids".

"I sat with him, I talked with him and I asked hard-nosed questions."

Belafonte said that Mbeki put forward his view that Aids is about "more than just healthcare", and that social factors need to be considered when tackling the disease.

Belafonte said that the president had shown that "the mystification of medicine and science by itself is an insufficient discourse to answer the other ramifications of Aids".

"There is nothing to disagree with on (Mbeki’s) views on Aids when he explains that what the medical and scientific community says does not stand alone... That the pandemic is affected by hunger, malnutrition and other social factors."

"I agree with Thabo Mbeki, as does my wife, and as I’m sure Unicef does, that unless a mighty Armada (fleet) is assembled to tackle the social issues that helps the Aids pandemic sustain itself, we will have missed the boat."

While Thabo Mbeki’s contention that Aids can only be tackled in the context of other social problems was discussed, the president’s public questioning of the link between HIV and Aids was not raised, Belafonte said.

While Belafonte said that he "won’t defend the President from what I’ve read" in the papers, he indicated that Mbeki's views needed to be seen in totality.

"It is a little unfair to consider just one aspect of his views in isolation," Belafonte said.

The US singer and UN ambassador said he was pleased that Mbeki has opened up debate on the issue.

When asked how he will respond to possible criticism of South Africa’s response to HIV/Aids should the issue arise in the UN Aids assembly, Belafonte said while he would present the views of the country’s leaders, "I do not have to define Mbeki’s views".

Belafonte said would use the UN assembly as a chance to "suggest that those in the US don’t just send medicines" and that greater humanitarian assistance as well as expertise be provided to countries in Africa in the grip of the Aids pandemic.

Belafonte said that he saw hope in South Africa’s response to Aids and said that the country could be looked at to provide an example to the rest of Africa.

Unicef representative to South Africa, Jesper Morch, says that the statistics of Aids infections in South Africa are "horrible".

He cited statistics showing that more than 50% of all 15-year-old children in the country will have died from Aids within 15 years.

NewsStream - Johnnic's online news desk

Wednesday 20 June 2001 - BusinessDay (On-line)



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