The death of Mandela's son is creating an immediate impact on the ongoing discussion on AIDS. President Mbeki's position has been dragged into it. Its New Year's message that did not mention AIDS ( Note below alcohol abuse, drug abuse, road fatalities, and poverty). As many who are now talking about Mbeki's production appear not to have read his New Year's speech, it is reproduced below.
Mbeki vows to help Africa
31/12/2004 12:25 - (SA)
Cape Town - Helping other countries on the continent solve their political, economic and social problems will be a focus area of South Africa's foreign policy in 2005, says President Thabo Mbeki.
In a New Year's message on Friday, he said particular attention would be paid to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Ivory Coast.
q"Our continent of Africa has... continued to make progress towards solving its political, economic and social problems.
"We will continue in the New Year to contribute whatever we can towards the achievement of this objective.
"In particular in the New Year, we will have to focus on working with the governments and people of the DRC, Burundi and Cote d'Ivoire as they prepare for and hold democratic elections, as well as the Sudanese people as they engage the challenge of post-conflict reconstruction.
"We also hope that significant progress will be made towards the solution of the problems confronting the peoples of Palestine and Israel, Iraq and Western Sahara."
Reducing poverty in South Africa
Mbeki said 2004 had been a good year for South Africa.
"Our economy has... performed very well, establishing itself as one of the best performing economies in the world.
"Among other things, it has also brought the good news that we are creating new jobs, though we know that these are not enough, and therefore that we must continue to work to create more job opportunities.
"We are therefore well set to achieve new successes in the New Year as we continue to respond to the important challenge of reducing poverty in our country."
Mbeki also made an appeal to South African road users to not drink and drive, saying "some among us have lost the possibility to think and act rationally as a result of drug and alcohol abuse".
Join hands to rebuild
"As government, we are very concerned that too many of our people are dying and sustaining permanent injury unnecessarily, because of accidents on our roads.
"Our country is... confronted by the serious problem of drug and alcohol abuse.
"This is one of the primary causes of accidents on our roads, affecting both drivers and pedestrians. We must therefore take the rule very seriously - don't drink and drive!"
"We extend our sincere condolences to all those affected, all of them being countries with which we have strong relations of friendship.
We also extend our heartfelt sympathies to our own families and families from other parts of the world who lost their loved ones.
He said: "We must and will do everything we can to assist the affected countries to respond to this unprecedented tragedy, as well as join hands with them as they work to recover and rebuild."
Edited by Andiswa Mesatywa
Much to celebrate, but what of Aids? December 31, 2004
South Africa can close the year with a smile today and look forward to a prosperous new year in which the economy is likely to continue its good performance, the rand stay strong and inflation be kept in check.
We can look back with pride on many achievements of 2004, including winning the 2010 World Cup bid, a Nobel prize, an Oscar and an Olympic gold medal.
As we close a year which marked our decade of democracy, we can take pride in peaceful elections and a Constitution which allows unprecedented human rights, such as the recognition of gay marriage.
Much has been done to promote peace in the Great Lakes Region and President Mbeki, in his New Year message which appears on this page, refers to the need to continue helping other African countries solve their problems.
2005 will, undoubtedly, produce its own special moments but it is right to pause before we get there and reflect on our own most pressing problems which will not disappear at the stroke of midnight.
Among these are corruption in the public service as reflected in the MPs' travel voucher scam; failures in education; hassles in the provision of housing; strikes including one by teachers; and a failure to make a real impact on HIV/Aids levels.
Mr Mbeki refers to the eradication of poverty as a local priority for 2005, and to the Arrive Alive road safety campaign, but makes no mention of HIV/Aids.
While we endorse his call to commit ourselves to continued peace and stablity, to friendship and reconciliation in this country, we have to question why he did not use the opportunity to make a resolution to tackle HIV/Aids as a priority.