Interested observers will know that South Africa is currently run by the ANC's President Thabo Mbeki (who informed interviewers repeatedly that he doesn't know a single person who died on AIDS in his country, and who expressed doubts that HIV is the cause of AIDS).
His Minister for Health Prevention is Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (who offered at one point in her illustrious career beetroot, the African potato and garlic as a means to prevent AIDS). They both continue to conspire against millions of HIV infected South Africans with a wide array of truly idiotic statements and every effort to slow down the roll-out of antiretroviral treatments as good as is feasible (ideally without getting caught).
Eventually they were forced by mostly court decisions to stop the HIV related genocide that they were quietly organising and presiding over. Still, things happen even to truly nasty people like the Pres and his sidekick Manto. Manto, who would fit nicely into Scotland, given her interest in booze, had to be taken out of action to get a new liver (as her old liver truly couldn't handle the amount of alcohol she's guzzling). While she quickly jumped the queue to get a new liver (makes sense, who else would assist so kindly in executing Thabo Mbeki's genocidal activities), her Deputy Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge took over. She is an old hack of the South African communist party and so a member of a party belonging to the triparty alliance making up the government of the country. Being not an ANC cadre she didn't have to insists that the earth is flat, pigs can fly and AIDS is a conspiracy against Black people organised by the CIA and the international pharmaceutical industry bent on selling poisonous AIDS drugs to South African Blacks. There was no need for her to peddle 'African solutions' such as beetroot, African potatos etc etc (as Manto suggested in between a couple of drinks during one of her conference appearances).
Well, Madlala-Routledge worked tirelessly toward getting AIDS ttreatment programs off the ground while Tshabalala-Msimang jumped the liver transplantation queue. It was only a matter of time until she would be cancelled by Thabo and his sidekick, and today she was. The pretext was that she went to (would you believe) an AIDS conference in Spain even though Thabo the Pres explicitly refused her travel. Stupidly Madlala-Routledge seems to have dragged her son and various hangers-on along so this had all the make-up of a junket trip. A good pretext to fire her. Here's a statement on her dismissal from the South African HIV/AIDS Clinicians' Society that I received a few minutes ago. I would normally encourage you to write to the SA High Commission or Embassy in your country and ask that you criticise her dismissal, but what's the point, thhe High Commissioners and ambassadors would report back to Thabo the Pres who is the bloke who fired her in the first place... welcome to the ANC owned rainbow nation in action.
'Statement by the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society (9th August 2007)
We are an organisation of over 12 000 health professionals working in HIV care in the Southern Africa region. http://www.sahivsoc.org/ We support the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDaSA) statement issued on 9th August 2007, National Women’s Day. We believe that Deputy Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge has played a fundamental role in bringing civil society and professionals together to support the government’s National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV/AIDS, on an unprecedented level. She demonstrated compassion and commitment to South Africa’s population, with a respect for science and public health that made us realise what we should demand from all public servants. The manner of her dismissal (on Women’s Day), when so much positive work has been done in the area of HIV, to provide political and public leadership for the first time, is deeply distressing. Furthermore, it comes when we are seeing alarming signs of a return to the rhetoric and confrontation of the past over HIV. The Society has asked for urgent clarification, as have others, as to why the mother-to-child HIV prevention programme (PMTCT) has not been expanded beyond 30% coverage after 5 years, and why more effective regimens have not been implemented. Yet again, court action is being threatened as the last resort to force action on this issue. Fewer than 20% of adults requiring antiretrovirals are receiving them, after more than 3 years of publicly available ART. Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, since her return from sick leave, has not addressed these worrying problems. Instead she has focused on the (unsubstantiated) high price of future antiretrovirals, claims of good geographical ‘coverage’ for PMTCT and ART access, and continued references to South Africa having the ‘largest and most comprehensive response’, without critical appraisal of those who do not access HIV care. For HIV infected people, their families, and their caregivers, this looks like more of the same – the Minister demonstrating antagonism to the one thing that can save their lives – antiretroviral therapy. It is deeply ironic that price is cited by the Minister as an issue in access to antiretrovirals, when it has taken the bravery of activist groups and professionals, rather than her own department, to fight for current affordable HIV care. Finally, we remain deeply concerned that the targets set for the NSP for 2007 look increasingly unrealisable. Since their publication, no plan has been forthcoming on how to attain the ambitious targets set in the Plan. Our country desperately needs trusted and brave leadership in the area of HIV. The deputy minister gave us hope that this was possible. We wish her well, and thank her for giving us hope and leadership. We recommit ourselves to ensuring that government, the elected steward of our health system, is held accountable for decisions regarding health care for HIV-infected people. On behalf of the Executive, SAHCS.'