SANAC on-the-go

When Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe launched the new South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) governance structures during an epoch-making plenary held in KwaZulu-Natal in September 2012, it was made clear that the whole country is united in the response to HIV, STIs and TB.Soon after that, the SANAC Secretariat was at the centre of coordinating and supporting national campaigns aimed at raising awareness and rallying youth and communities to end new HIV infections.

‘A re dlale safe’ campaign launched

‘A re dlale safe for zero new HIV and TB infections’ is the rallying call for SANAC in terms of the National Strategic Plan 2012–2016. The campaign was launched on World AIDS Day 2012 in Potchefstroom, North West Province, by the Deputy President and Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi.

The campaign was run from World AIDS Day to the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament and beyond. SANAC mandated the Sport and Entertainment Sector, led by Show Me Your Number, to be the lead organisation in the campaign’s implementation.

World AIDS Day 2012

World AIDS Day was a combination of sport and health. The events took place in Potchefstroom’s Olen Park Stadium and later on in Durban during the Telkom Final match of the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The main event was attended by more than 3 500 people.

Activities on the day included five-a-side soccer games, aerobics, indigenous games, volleyball and netball. Various service providers conducted HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT), TB and lifestyle-disease screening, such as diabetes and blood pressure. It is estimated that over 1 000 people were provided with health services.

The ‘A re dlale safe’ theme song, composed by Chicco Twala and Eugene Mthethwa, was performed for the audience. The crowd was excited because the song features well-known actor Madluphuthu.

In the evening the Deputy President and Minister of Health attended the Telkom Knock Out Final in Durban where Mamelodi Sundowns played against Bloemfontein Celtic. At this game, the Deputy President made a speech on the HIV- and TB-prevention efforts of government to the capacity-filled stadium of 70 000 people. The speech was also televised to millions of people. Prior to the start of the game, thousands of male condoms were distributed to people who attended the game.

Africa Cup of Nations 2013

Fast forward to 19 January 2013: the AFCON 2013 tournament kicked off. It took place over three weeks in five host cities: Johannesburg, Mbombela, Durban, Rustenburg and Nelson Mandela Bay. During the campaign, the SANAC leadership — CEO Dr. Fareed Abdullah, Rev Zwo Nevhutalu, Civil Society Forum Chairperson Steve Letsike and Deputy Chairperson Prudence Mabele — led from the front.

Over these three weeks, the following activities took place in Rustenburg, Durban, East London, Ermelo, Soweto and Alexandra: HCT, advocacy, social mobilisation by ambassadors, sport activities, condom distribution and the distribution and performance of the theme song, ‘A re dlale safe/Play for the Union’. The theme song was also sung at the Grand Unity Soccer Match that took place in Meadowlands Stadium on the 9 February 2013.

Over 90 000 people were reached at the AFCON final through the broadcast of the SANAC, UNAIDS and Show Me Your Number public service announcement (PSA) that was broadcast live before and during half-time of the AFCON final match. Millions of people have been reached through the PSA via its broadcast by DSTV and eTV during AFCON matches. The PSA tells the story of Thabang Lebese, the PSL soccer player who died of AIDS a year ago.

SANAC also facilitated the distribution of 200 000 repackaged Choice condoms – ‘brandoms’ – through the major hotel groups in the five host cities. The ‘Condoms in Hotels’ initiative, as it is known, is the result of a partnership between SANAC, the National Department of Health, UNAIDS and the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa.

In the five provinces of implementation, over 5 000 people, especially men, undertook HCT and just over 1 000 men were recruited to undergo medical male circumcision.

Update on progress with restructuring of SANAC governance

With the appointment of Dr Fareed Abdullah as SANAC CEO last year, he and his management team have spent time looking at how SANAC can be more responsive to specific initiatives and build capacity to improve coordination at national, provincial and local levels.

For example, SANAC has responded to World AIDS Day and AFCON by actively involving relevant role players to assist with the coordination of duties. Show Me Your Number via the SANAC Sports and Entertainment Sector is a good and successful example.

The focus does not reside solely with specific events. SANAC has established via its Inter-Government and Sector Support team, lead by the writer Reverend Zwoitwaho Nevhutalu, a process to strengthen capacity in provinces, districts and sectors.

Initiatives currently completed or in progress include:

  • The establishment of a working group consisting of Provincial Council of AIDS (PCA) Secretariat Heads. This group actively looks at NSP/PSP implementation and where additional support is required to ensure comprehensive coordination.
  • A capacity-development plan for PCAs secretariats.
  • Support to the SANAC Civil Society Forum to ensure more effective coordination and to create the process by which sector representation is selected.
  • Development of a process to better understand the coordination challenges currently being faced at district- and ward-level. The assessment process will begin in March 2013 and result in a clearly defined capacity-support plan.
  • Development of process to evaluate then support sectors in the coordination activities from national through to local levels. This will be rolled out via SANAC Civil Society Forum channels.
  • Completion of a comprehensive induction manual for SANAC committee structures nationally and for PCAs. This will be rolled out from March 2013 onwards.

For further information regarding SANAC capacity-strengthening initiatives please contact Dr Fareed Abdullah at

Zwoitwaho Nevhutalu is the Executive Manager Inter-Governmental Support of the South African National AIDS Council