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Jim Clancy: AIDS drugs and other news out of Africa

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Jim Clancy
CNNI Inside Africa

Jim Clancy is an anchor and correspondent for CNN International. As host of Inside Africa, Clancy regularly covers political, cultural and economic news from the continent.

CNN Moderator: Good morning, Jim Clancy. Welcome all to Inside Africa Chat.

Jim Clancy: Good day everyone...whether you're in Africa or somewhere else in the world!

CNN Moderator: What can you tell us about the "Face of Africa" contest?

Jim Clancy: The "Face of Africa" is a commercial talent search that promotes a single African model each year as the "face" most representative of Africa on a world stage. It's controversial, because it accepts western fashion model standards that some argue are hardly representative of real African beauty. Of course, that's what it takes to make it in the real fashion world.

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CNN Moderator: What is the winner's award and what is the purpose of the contest?

Jim Clancy: The contest award is a four-year contract with a top modeling agency, Ford. The winner lives in New York and pursues a career as a model. For the models themselves, it's very exciting. The pay is pretty good and it is without a doubt the very best way for an African model to get a chance to "make it."

CNN Moderator: What has happened in the trial of the four suspects accused of participating in the 1994 Rwandan massacre?

Jim Clancy: Lawyers are wrapping up arguments today. The trial has lasted seven weeks. It's a landmark, no doubt about it because some argue it will become a model for other cases that recognize the "universal nature" of the crime of genocide.

It involves two nuns, a university professor and a businessman. They are accused of helping to plan and carry out mass killings. They fled to Belgium and obviously, some say they thought they could escape justice. This is the first time a jury of ordinary people is judging war crimes committed in a foreign country. Very significant...but we have to wait and see the outcome!

CNN Moderator: Some of our guests are asking about the issue of AIDS in Africa and the pharmaceutical companies' role in providing affordable drugs. What's the latest in that situation?

Jim Clancy: Pfizer announced today at the UN that it is going to provide free medication for as long as it is needed in 50 of the world's poorest countries. That's news. It reflects the public relations nightmare of the drug companies in this affair. Sure, they can get a tax write-off for donating the drugs, but the real issue is that not helping the helpless and dying would have been a smear on their reputations.

Now, that isn't the end of it. You know the cost of the drugs is just a part of the cost of administering such a program. You can't just hand these drugs out over the counter...a program of testing etc. must go with it. Frankly, many countries can't afford those programs. So it will take more money from more sources before anyone should be celebrating.

Question from chat room: What kind of health policies do governments in Africa have?

Jim Clancy: Unfortunately, the policy for medical care, in general is not good. Many governments have absolutely inadequate medical/healthcare budgets. This isn't going to change overnight. Part of the debt-relief issue is a call that if debts are cancelled, these countries not spend the money on arms or defense but invest, instead in education and healthcare.

Question from chat room: How has Secretary of State Powell's Africa visit played out in the days since his visit?

Jim Clancy: You can sum it up with "Let's wait and see." I think many people are positively impressed by the secretary of state's initiative. But concerns remain whether the trip will translate into meaningful engagement in Africa by the Bush Administration. Africa needs investment and business expertise. If the Bush Administration, working within solid frameworks like the African Growth and Opportunities Act and the Corporate Coalition for Africa can really make a difference it will be most welcome.

CNN Moderator: What other news is in the spotlight from Africa this week?

Jim Clancy: The Spotlight...my favorite part of this! There is some progress being made on the issue of child soldiers and Inside Africa is going to examine that this week. There are also a number of important business stories to cover...like the Pfizer announcement. Another big pharmaceutical/chemical company, Bayer, has been cited as contributing to the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for purchasing rebel-mined coltan (colombo tantalite). That's a substance, I understand that can be used for cell phone production and other uses.

Also, Zimbabwe continues to be on the boil. "Hitler" Hunzvi is dead, now declared a national hero. He led the farm occupations last year and apparently succumbed to malaria.

Angola is also coming up a bit with an admission from Jonas Savimbi that he "lost" the conventional war with Angola. That doesn't translate into peace, but it's something. And then, there are the Sudan talks, being pushed along by, among others, the United States. This is going to get interesting, folks! That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but tune in this weekend to Inside Africa and we'll have the latest for you.

CNN Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, as always, Jim Clancy. Talk to you again next week--same time, same place.

Jim Clancy: My pleasure, good questions...sorry I don't know more about fashion!

Jim Clancy joined the chat from CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The above is an edited transcript of the chat on Wednesday, June 6, 2001.



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