Address Aids and crime, Mbeki urged

Canaan Mdletshe and Eric Naki

Canaan Mdletshe and Eric Naki

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi says he hopes that President Thabo Mbeki would focus on HIV- Aids as well as crime when he delivers his State of the Nation address tomorrow.

Cosatu, for its part, wants Mbeki to deliver a "pro-poor" speech, arguing that the poor needed to be cushioned against the effects of price increases.

Buthelezi expects Mbeki to touch on his government's readiness to deliver on people's needs, especially after a series of presidential izimbizos the president and his cabinet had attended last year.

Buthelezi said he hoped that Mbeki would focus his attention on the Aids pandemic as it continued to affect too many people.

Buthelezi and former president Nelson Mandela have both lost children to the pandemic.

In 2006 the South African government announced a five-year plan to cut by half the number of new HIV infections in the country.

South Africa has the world's highest number of HIV-infected people.

The government said it would address the issue of the stigma attached to the pandemic, a factor that had discouraged many people from being tested.

The government claims it is ready to expand its HIV-Aids treatment and care programme so that it would cover 80percent of those who are already infected.

According to 2005 figures released by several international HIV-Aids watchdogs, 5,54million South Africans are living with the Aids virus.

l Cosatu has expressed the hope that Mbeki will deliver a pro-poor speech.

The federation said yesterday that it would examine whether Mbeki's address will depart from the pro-business and pro-rich policies that his government had pursued over the last several years.

The union body said it looked forward to Mbeki's announcement of a "bold programme of action" to implement the policies agreed on at the ANC national conference in Polokwane in December.

l This week the DA said Mbeki must ensure that the Scorpions were not disbanded or incorporated into the police as planned because they were the "only true anti-corruption force" in the country.

The party called for Mbeki to come up with a comprehensive anti-crime strategy to reduce the levels of murder, rape and armed robbery in the country and to provide anti-retrovirals to the 500000 people still not receiving them.