Politics and HIV and AIDS in South Africa : an analysis of the media reporting during the presidency of Thabo Mbeki (1999-2008)

Le Roux, Conette (2013-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Bibliography

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: When South African President Thabo Mbeki began doubting that HIV was the cause of AIDS in the late 1990s, failed to provide AIDS medication and stalled its introduction, openly supported HIV pseudoscientists and doubted HIV statistics, one of the most widely reported debates in the country’s history emerged. When two independent 2008 studies found that the death of approximately 330 000 South Africans could have been prevented between 1999 and 2007 if President Mbeki’s HIV policy made provision for AIDS medication, the AIDS debate was re-introduced, and it was these findings that provided the motivation for this study. The purpose of this study was to provide a historical perspective on HIV reporting in the media during Mbeki’s presidency in order to answer how the media reflected and reported on his HIV policy, and also to provide possible reasons for the way the media reported on the matter. Research has shown that the government (particularly President Mbeki and his health ministers) and AIDS social movement organisations (particularly the Treatment Action Campaign [TAC]) were the main actors framing the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Thus, this study examined the media’s HIV trail in reporting on these actors’ responses and counter-responses by means of content analysis. Qualitative analysis, in the form of questionnaires sent to health journalists who reported on HIV during this period, was completed in order to provide the possible reasons for the media’s reporting style. During the content analysis it was found that the media reporting was mostly positive towards the TAC and mostly critical towards Mbeki and his government, and the results of the questionnaires verified this, but also provided reasons why the media were mostly critical of Mbeki and his government. One principal reason was that the government’s policies on HIV were so blatantly contrary to scientific evidence and medically unethical that it was the media’s duty to fulfil their watchdog and surveillance role.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Toe die Suid-Afrikaanse president, Thabo Mbeki, in die laat jare negentig begin het om die oorsaak van VIGS in twyfel te trek, daarin misluk het om VIGS-medikasie te verskaf en produksie daarvan vertraag het, en openlik MIV-pseudowetenskaplikes ondersteun het en MIV-statistiek bevraagteken het, het ’n debat met moontlik van dié wydste nuusdekking in die geskiedenis van die land posgevat. Die VIGS-debat het weer op die voorgrond beland nadat twee onafhanklike studies in 2008 bevind het sowat 330 000 Suid-Afrikaners se dood kon tussen 1999 en 2007 vermy gewees het indien president Mbeki se MIV-beleid voorsiening gemaak het vir die verskaffing van VIGS-medikasie. Hierdie bevindinge het die motivering vir die studie verskaf. Die doel van hierdie studie was om ’n historiese perspektief van die mediadekking van MIV tydens Mbeki se presidentskap te verskaf om sodoende vas te stel hoe die media die debat oor Mbeki se MIV-beleid weerspieël het, maar ook om die redes te bepaal vir die manier waarop die media oor die kwessie berig het. Navorsing het getoon die regering (spesifiek president Mbeki en sy gesondheidsministers) en aktivistegroepe (spesifiek die Treatment Action Campaign [TAC]) was die hoofkarakters betrokke by die fokussering van die VIGS-epidemie in Suid-Afrika. Dus het hierdie studie probeer om die media se MIV-spore met betrekking tot beriggewing oor hierdie akteurs se stellings en reaksies deur middel van inhoudanalise te bestudeer. Kwalitatiewe analise in die vorm van vraelyste wat aan gesondheidsjoernaliste gestuur is wat in hierdie tydperk beriggewing oor MIV gedoen het, is gebruik om moontlike redes te verskaf vir die manier van beriggewing. Tydens die inhoudanalise is bevind dat mediadekking meestal positief teenoor die TAC was en meestal negatief teenoor Mbeki en sy regering. Die resultate van die vraelyste het dít bevestig, en redes verskaf waarom die media meestal krities was teenoor Mbeki en sy regering. Een van die vernaamste redes was dat die regering se beleidsrigtings met betrekking tot MIV so blatant teen wetenskaplike bewyse gekant was en boonop medies oneties was, dat dit juis die media se plig was om die rol van waghond te speel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/80298
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