Den tidligere FN-utsendingen til Afrika om aids, Stephen Lewis, feller en knusende dom over president Mbekis aids-politikk. I Sør-Afrika er det som dommedag hver eneste dag: 900 mennesker dør hver eneste dag og nye 1.000 blir smittet, mange av dem kvinner.
Robert Mugabe har totalt ruinert og kompromittert Zimbabwe, men Mbekis håndtering av aids ligger ikke langt etter.
Nylig sparket han visehelseministeren, den eneste i regjeringen som har vist forståelse og vilje til å gjøe noe. Helseministeren er på linje med presidenten og mener aids kan kureres med løk og rødbetsaft. Da helseministeren ble sykmeldt kunne viseministeren ta fatt og sette igang reelt arbeid. Nå er han avsatt og det får Lewis til å synge ut:
Stephen Lewis, who recently retired as U.N. special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, called for international pressure on the government to implement an ambitious anti-AIDS campaign.
«It is said that 900 men, women and children die every day in South Africa of AIDS-related illnesses. It’s Armageddon every 24 hours,» Lewis wrote in an opinion piece for South African newspapers. «Other than South Africa, every government in the high-prevalence countries is moving heaven and earth to keep its people alive.
Mbeki, long accused by activists of being in denial about HIV/AIDS, last week fired deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, who had clashed openly with the president’s close ally, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Mbeki said Madlala-Routledge refused to act as part of a team.
Tshabalala-Msimang has been the object of international criticism for promoting garlic, lemons and beets as therapy for people with AIDS, and for her open mistrust of antiretroviral medicines.
«No matter the astuteness of his economic policy, social interventions, financial acumen, or peacekeeping initiatives across the continent, he will always be known as the president who presided over the AIDS apocalypse,» Lewis said.
«It’s a terrible legacy with which to haunt the pages of history.»
Tshabalala-Msimang was recently sidelined with health problems and her deputy revitalized the drive against the AIDS virus, which has affected an estimated 5.4 million South Africans — the second-highest number in the world. An estimated 900 South Africans die daily of the disease and more than 1,000 people are newly infected, many of them young women.