n African Journal of Rhetoric - Democracy, civil society and the commodification of AIDS in Africa

Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


This paper focuses on how some civil society organisations have exploited HIV/AIDS in Africa to further their economic interests. This development has been encouraged by the liberalization of the political space which has facilitated an increase in the number of civil society organizations and by the preference of northern donors to work with civil society organisations rather than with the state. It also interrogates the economic policies of trans-national donor agencies and how the introduction of market based principles like competitive bidding have had unintended consequences on the integrity of HIV/AIDS work. It argues that while democracy seems to have heightened the role of civil society in the setting of the normative order of the state, it has also advanced the tendency to use that role to nurture the capital accumulation instincts of certain elements involved in civil advocacy including the HIV/AIDS programme. It also argues that increased talk on HIV/AIDS in Africa is not as much a sign of increased commitment to its eradication as it is a strategy for economic advancement of the individuals involved. The result is that civil society has been corrupted by the profit motive arising from the funds available resulting in the diversion of their humanitarian motive into profit maximization. The implication is that work on HIV/AIDS has been undermined thus defeating the purpose for which the funds were availed.

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