Friday, January 05, 2007

Aids: A South African “Powder Keg”

The year-ender edition of the Wall Street Journal carried an interview with Rev. Desmond Tutu, a South African cleric who recently reminded his fellow countrymen that Mbeki’s policies on poverty, Aids and Zimbabwe resembled a “powder keg” waiting to explode. Those comments were not received well by President Mbeki, who referred to Rev. Tutu’s remarks as "empty rhetoric".


Current administration’s dealings with AIDS leaves nothing to be desired: senior government officials, including the President, have been on the wrong side of AIDS war. Most notable case is that of former Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who recently claimed that bathing after sexual intercourse “lessens the chances of contracting AIDS virus.” It is absurd that the comment was made by a former head of SANAC (South Africa National Aids Council).

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang questions the success of antiretroviral drugs, which is why she supports the use of dietary supplements (including garlic and beetroot).

The president has consistently refused to acknowledge that HIV causes AIDS. He had to be overruled by his own cabinet for a statement that “HIV causes AIDS” to be included in the country' AIDS policy. Worse still, Mbeki’s administration had to be taken to court for public treatment programs to begin.

One can only hope that South African leaders will change their attitude before the “Powder Keg” explodes.

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