This is a statement issued on World AIDS Day (1 December 2010) by the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS).
SNUS STATEMENT ON WORLD AIDS DAY
We join the whole world in commemorating the world AIDS day. This is a day where we humbly ourselves and commemorate the patriots of this wonderful world who had consciously or unconsciously fallen victims of this viciousness diseases. We commemorate this day completely aware that AIDS claims more lives than the total sum of victims of wars we had fought in the past.
We, as the progressive students of Swaziland are aware that our beloved country, Swaziland has the highest HIV-AIDS prevalence rate in the whole world. It is totally embarrassing and unbelievable that in a small country likes Swaziland, where there is a population of about a million people, 26% of them are HIV positive. However, as the students of Swaziland, we are not surprised as this a direct consequence of the arrogant and undemocratic government that we have in the country. We are aware that the government has plunged the country into the socio-economic and political quagmire we are in now.
Our government has immensely failed to come up with a clear participatory campaign to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS. The government led by the illegally appointed prime minister has over the years failed to come up with strategies and policies to fight the spread of HIV and AIDS. Our government has allowed an inhuman and degrading environment which has become a fertile ground for the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Two thirds of the Swazi population lives below poverty line, a number of young people in the country are unemployed and do not have formal education. The continual exploitation of our brothers and sisters by foreigners in Matsapha industrial site has contributed immensely in the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Our sister and brothers work long hours and are paid very little. This has led to the youth to resort into unhealthy means in finding a living. We acknowledge the work done by the government of distributing ARVs, but what can ARVs do to a hungry person in Msunduza with no food, job and proper medication. What can ARVs do to a person who goes to a hospital and finds no medication for the diseases that you become prone to when infected with HIV and aids?
Our government hospitals have been turned into half way station where sick people wait for their cruel and inhuman death. Government has over the years failed to provide up-to-standard healthy facilities which will come in handy in fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS. Our government hospitals lack well motivated and rewarded personnel to take care of the sick people. They work in terrible conditions where there are no proper equipment and medication for doing their work properly.
After all, what can we expect from a bunch of clowns masquerading as legislators? What can you expect from a minister who is suppose to be a role model, who publicly say when she says ‘no’, she actually means ‘yes’? What can you expect from this government where you have a senior prince and a chairman of Liqoqo (king’s advisory body) who impregnates young girls and openly deny the existence of HIV and AIDS. What can you expect from a government where a legislator publicly says all those with HIV and aids must be marked, labelled and branded?
On this historic day, we unapologetically call for accessible, affordable and relevant education system that will be informed by the socio economic demands of the country. This is because, not only is education a right and entitlement, but it is also crucial for tackling global poverty, improving health, halting the spread of HIV and AIDS and enabling people to play a full and active role in their communities.
We also call upon all the young people of Swaziland to take charge of their own lives and future. We call upon them to abstain from sex and to always have protected sex if they cannot abstain. We also encourage all Swazi people to be faithfully to their partners and stick to one partner.
In conclusion, we are aware that our countryside is littered with graves of young people. It is littered with graves of our beloved sisters and brothers, patriots of this country and future doctors and engineers of our beloved motherland who had fallen victims of this deadly disease. Therefore, there is no time to rest; we need to combat HIV and AIDS. We need to restore human dignity and call for a democratic government that will allow popular participation of the people of Swaziland and seek to empower and develop its citizens. HIV- AIDS and Tinkhundla must be swept away.