Mandela, African Finance Ministers Back U.K. Plan for Debt Relief
Former South African President Nelson Mandela on Sunday after meeting with British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown voiced his support for a U.K. plan to cancel debt, eliminate trade barriers and boost aid to developing nations in Africa, Reuters reports (Harrison, Reuters, 1/16). While speaking at a meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, Brown said that targets set to halve poverty by 2015 would be missed by more than 100 years without a "massive injection" of aid to Africa, according to AFP/Turkish Press. "Let the Africa Commission report be the world vehicle by which we agree to the request I have had from all over Africa that for once and for all we can finally wipe the historic and unpayable debt of the past and end the injustice that has lasted for far too long," he said (AFP/Turkish Press, 1/17). The plan calls for the cancellation of about $70 billion of debt from developing countries and doubling aid to about $100 billion annually, according to South Africa's Business Day (Ensor, Business Day, 1/18). "My first impression is that it is a good scheme," Mandela said, adding, "I wish more people will have a Marshall Plan for Africa." After meeting with Brown, Mandela also agreed to travel to London to "rally support" for the U.K. plan at next month's meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized countries, according to AFP/Turkish Press (AFP/Turkish Press, 1/17). Brown said Mandela also has begun calling European leaders to help "get them on board" with the British plan, according to Reuters (Reuters, 1/16). African finance ministers also have "broadly endorsed" the plan, according to Business Day (Business Day, 1/18)
Brown 'Dodges' Question About Mbeki's HIV/AIDS Commitment
Brown -- who also has called for a $10 billion international plan to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic -- on Monday "ducked" a question about South African President Thabo Mbeki's commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS, SAPA/iafrica.com reports (SAPA/iafrica.com, 1/17). Brown last week while in Tanzania called upon wealthy nations to increase funding pledges to fight HIV/AIDS to ensure that countries most affected by the pandemic can make investments in sex education and hospitals and purchase antiretroviral drugs to save millions of lives. Brown's initiative aims to double the current $750 million spent worldwide annually on vaccine research and coordinate an international vaccine information system. If such funding increases are realized, Brown said that a vaccine might be possible three years earlier than the current projection of 2020, which would save an estimated six million lives and reduce treatment costs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/13). When asked at a press conference whether he believed Mbeki was as committed as he was on the issue of AIDS, Brown said, "I was actually going to answer the previous question put to me." The previous question dealt with armed conflict in Africa (SAPA/iafrica.com, 1/17).