Hence, our association with SABCOHA
, which is well placed and well informed to handle such interventions.
After admitting that 'none of us are doing enough', and that less than 10% of corporates were SABCOHA members, Mears countered that his members were 'not seeing any HIV/ AIDS demands from organised labour in annual negotiations'.
Asked to elaborate last month (July), Mears said that within months of being appointed SABCOHA CEO in early 2004, he approached COSATU via the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), 'to explore whether there was an appetite for bilateral talks'.
'Another irony is that SABCOHA and COSATU get on very well in the new South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), but there is nothing in the way of bilaterals outside this forum.'
Quizzed on why business membership in the high-profile SABCOHA was so low, Mears said it was a reflection of a more widespread apathy, driven by the overwhelming nature of the pandemic and more particularly in business, fears of being drawn into a high-conflict political arena.
These are mining companies, insurance companies, energy organisations, motor manufacturers and banks.' Woolworths is the only retail company to have joined SABCOHA.
SABCOHA's stated mission is to 'empower business in the workplace and beyond to take effective action against HIV/AIDS'.
SABCOHA's (South Africa) vision is to double membership to 80 by 2010, ZBCA (Zambia) plans to increase from 60 to 120 by 2008 and ECoSIDA is commited to significantly increase its membership from 43 members to 100 by the end of 2008.
A number of Business Coalitions in sub-Saharan Africa have expressed an interest to move into this area, including MBCA (Malawi), BCHA (Swaziland), NIBUCAA (Nigeria), UBC-HIV/AIDS (Uganda) and SABCOHA (South Africa).
For example, ABCT (Tanzania) and Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania are reaching out to SME banking customers, and Eskom and VW in South Africa are working with SABCOHA
(South Africa) to engage their supply chains.