Thousands of So. Africans March Against Drug Multinationals

Thousands of protesters marched from Pretoria’s Church Square around 11am on Monday [March 5] to the city’s High Court where they picketted to show support for the government in its court battle against the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association, a group which represents multinational drugs companies.

Thousands of protesters marched from Pretoria’s Church Square around 11am on Monday [March 5] to the city’s High Court where they picketted to show support for the government in its court battle against the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association, a group which represents multinational drugs companies.

The pharmaceutical firms are approaching the court in a bid to stop the country importing cheaper generic medicines, including a cost-effective anti-AIDS "cocktail."

The marchers, filling the length of an entire street block, marched down Church and Bosman Streets on their way to the court in Vermeulen Street.

They were led by Pretoria’s Catholic Archbishop George Daniel and Bishop David Beetge of the Anglican Church.

Traffic officials, police and marshals were trying their best to keep the march orderly, and several city streets had been closed. Before leaving Church Square, the protesters were led in prayer by religious leaders.

The marchers included members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) , the African National Congress, the SA Communist Party, the Treatment Action Campaign, and other unions.

"We cannot allow them to succeed, and will continue our fight. If we don’t do that it means that we allow people to die," Cosatu’s president, Willie Madisha, said at the march.

Should the drugs firms win the case, Cosatu would approach the National Economic Development and Labour Council to push for procedures allowing the union to "mobilise around this as a socio-economic issue," he said. Cosatu would also approach the Constitutional Court.

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News Service: MAI-NOT