Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government


27 September 2014

The Mpumalanga Provincial Aids Council [MPAC] has expressed satisfaction that it was making some progress with regards to the fight against HIV and AIDS in the province.

This transpired at a two-day Lekgotla of MPAC which took place last week [25 – 26 September 2014] in Hazyview aimed at taking stock of the progress made and strategizing on further efforts in the fight against HIV and AIDS pandemic.

Chairing the Lekgotla attended by more than 200 various stakeholders, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, said achievements in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the past five years had exceeded by far from what the country and the province could have achieved during the previous fifteen years.

The Premier explained that a number of battles against the disease had been won, however the country would have been far had it not lose more than a decade in denial.

“We can see the mountain top, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can see the bridges that we need to cross, we can smell victory but all of these are so close but yet so far. We shall overcome all these obstacles if we are united,” said Mabuza.

Mabuza added that the fight against HIV and AIDS could not be fought in the darkness, but if everyone got tested at least once if not twice per year and that those who already lived with a virus continued to live a positive life and used protection when engaging in sex, it would be easy to deal with the scourge.

He explained that since research showed that circumcision reduced the likelihood of contracting the virus, it would further in fighting the disease if men and boys were circumcised. Circumcision was done free of charge at public hospitals and it was done professionally.

“Circumcision does not prevent transmission of the virus nor does it prevent contradicting the virus. Once we are circumcised, we should continue using protection.

“Let us have compassion, ubuntu and treat all those that live with the virus as human beings. After all HIV and AIDS is just like any other disease, it is not a death sentence,” said Mabuza.

He said during the past five years, the country saw the number of new cases decreasing, the number of deaths due to HIV and AIDS were also dropping and life expectancy of South Africans increased from 54 years to 60 years.

“All these gains were directly attributed to the vigorous and endless campaigns that we have as a country and this province in particular has been monitoring. We are turning the tide against the disease but all these statistics suggest that the war is not over yet,” said Mabuza.

Mpumalanga remains the second province with the highest HIV prevalence. In the Gert Sibande District, the antenatal HIV prevalence has significantly declined from 46.1 percent in 2011 to 40.5 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the Nkangala District, which used to be the lowest has increased from 29.6 percent in 2011 to 32.1 percent.

The Premier cited amongst others the high rate of unemployment as seen as some major drivers of the epidemic as some girls are being driven into having babies at an early age in order to access the social grants.

He said the council would further engage the traditional leaders in driving the message that seek to intervene on behavioral patterns in order to reverse social and cultural norms as concurrent sexual partnerships remain high in the province.

He said transactional sex was rampant in trucking hubs and stops linked to road freight. Again alcohol and substance abuse particularly amongst the teenagers was fast becoming a problem, as there was a strong tie between such and unsafe sexual behavior.

Speaking on behalf of the civil society, Bishop Gordon Mthembu urged people not to stigmitise those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.

“As people of Mpumalanga, we ought not to stigmatize people. We must support each other as family members to take the medication accordingly and to do everything as prescribed by the doctors and hospitals. It is very important that those on medication should not abscond.

“We should not consider the myths we have in our communities as people that if you have been prayed for or anointed with the oil, the HIV and AIDS will go away. Even if you are being prayed for or anointed with oil, people should continue to take their medication,” said Bishop Mthembu.

Meanwhile the Lekgotla resolved that all Aids councils must mobilize resources with clear plans and must leverage on the political leadership support. The ward council meetings should also discuss amongst others the HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases in order to continue creating awareness about the fight against this pandemic.

It was further resolved that the religious sector and local artists which are in the province should play a significant role in the awareness and advocacy campaigns.

The ZAZI campaign intended to discourage young girls from engaging on sexual relationships with elderly men will be rolled out in all municipalities. The campaign will be linked to the 365 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children.

All the stakholders signed a pledge to continue working together in the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

Issued by Zibonele Mncwango
Spokesperson: Mpumalanga Premier
Mpumalanga Provincial Government
Office of the Premier
Tel: (013) 766 2453
Mobile: 079 491 0163
zmncwango@mpg.gov.za OR zibonelemncwango@gmail.com

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