Zackie Achmat is a pioneering South African organizer, journalist, educator, and current director of the Centre for Law and Social Justice in Cape Town. As an Open Society Fellow, Achmat began work on a memoir of his life as an activist, spanning the major political struggles of South Africa’s modern history, from the battle against apartheid to the campaign for gay and lesbian rights and for access to lifesaving pharmaceuticals for those with HIV/AIDS.
Achmat is the founder and former chair of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the cofounder of the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality. Recognized as the one of the most important social movements in post-apartheid South Africa, the TAC has held governments accountable for health care service delivery, campaigned against official AIDS denialism, challenged the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to make treatment more affordable, and cultivated community leadership on HIV and AIDS. Achmat has also directed the AIDS Law Project at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 2008, he jointly founded the Social Justice Coalition to promote the rights of South Africa’s marginalized communities.
Achmat’s many honors include a Desmond Tutu Leadership Award and the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights.