n Journal of African Elections - Democracy, HIV / AIDS and citizen participation : focus on the 2004 South African election

Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



While debate about the impact of HIV / AIDS on socio-economic development has been rife and robust, the political discourse around the pandemic has tended somehow to lag far behind. It is now well established that HIV / AIDS represents not only a health catastrophe but, primarily, a development crisis. Yet only recently have we come to accept that the epidemic is, in fact, a governance crisis too. Much as the epidemic tends to have adverse effects on socio-economic development, it also has deleterious effects on democratic governance. This article thus teases out the possible impact of the HIV / AIDS epidemic on democracy, specifically focusing on citizen participation in South Africa. Within this discourse I deal with the extent to which we can explain voter participation trends between the 1994 and 2004 South African elections as informed, in part, by the debilitating effect of HIV / AIDS on both infected and affected citizens. If this is correct, HIV / AIDS is surely contributing to one of the dangers (or deficits) of modern democracy, namely voter apathy.

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