[Marxism] South Africa pres fires minister for AIDS activity

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Thu Aug 30 03:54:26 MDT 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Fred Feldman" <ffeldman at bellatlantic.net>
> What strikes me about this article is the focus on international, NGO-type
> responses to this firing, a passing mention of "opposition politicians", 
> and
> the lack of any broader South African response.

Fred, TAC is not an NGO. It's a social movement. I have big disagreements 
with TAC strategy and even analysis, but they are the most important social 
force in this country's medical history, and after the trade unions, the 
strongest civil society advocacy movement. Here's what they did yesterday 
(below)... and for the broader SA response, it's nearly universal disgust or 
anger. (My university centre - http://www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs - will be hosting 
Madlala-Routledge in her major Durban speech in about a fortnight's time, 
and we're also expecting many hundreds of ordinary people to come around and 
show support.)

Mbeki, Manto slated as 'criminals' in protest

Deon de Lange, The Star, 30 August 2007

Backing for fired Madlala-Routledge mounting

Aids lobbyist and supporters of fired deputy health minister Nozizwe 
Madlala-Routledge have intensified their defence and support for her by 
insulting and criticising President Thabo Mbeki.

Hundreds of members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and other 
organisations packed the isles of St George's Cathedral in Cape Town 

"Nozizwe, you are in a bad place only because we have this criminal 
(s'gebengu) called Mbeki and this criminal called Manto 
(Tshabalala-Msimang) ." they sang.

TAC leader Zackie Achmat told the gathering Madlala-Routledge's dismissal 
showed that Mbeki's government suffered from a "crisis of governance and a 
crisis of truth", and accused Mbeki and the health minister of "forcing this 
crisis on the people of South Africa".

He also revealed that Madlala-Routledge had visited him in hospital in 2005, 
but had to leave her bodyguards behind so as not to be noticed.

"If she was seen visiting me, she would have been in trouble," Achmat said.

The TAC has waged a protracted campaign against the Health Department's 
failure to meet HIV treatment targets, and its relationship with the health 
minister has been particularly hostile, with the pressure group repeatedly 
calling for her head.

According to Nathan Geffen, from the Aids Law Project, the point of 
yesterday's protest was to "express support for the principles for which 
Madlala-Routledge stood the improvement of the public health system in 
general and the implementation of the government's National Strategic Plan 
on HIV and Aids".

Cosatu Eastern Cape chairperson Monroe Mkalipi, representing the national 
leadership, questioned the motive behind the government's pursuit of money 
owed by Madlala-Routledge.

"Some of these issues date back to 2001. Are they being raised now because 
of her stance on Aids?

"If this is how the government is going to go forward, then we say enough is 
enough. (HIV) is a national disaster and does not need politics," he said.

George Ellis, a cosmologist from the University of Cape Town, took the 
podium to rubbish Mbeki's explanation that he fired Madlala-Routledge 
because she couldn't work "as part of a collective".

"Yes indeed, she wouldn't go along with government lies about the state of 
health services in the Eastern Cape. Working as part of a collective (in 
this case) means you ask no embarrassing questions and hide the truth when 
told to do so," he said.

Ellis further suggested the bill for Madlala-Routledge's aborted trip to an 
Aids conference in Spain be handed to Mbeki, saying it was Mbeki's 
last-minute withdrawal of permission for the trip that caused the wasted 
expenditure in the first place.

"The real reason (for denying permission for the trip) is that it would have 
shown up South Africa's Aids policy in a deplorable light, and that is what 
had to be prevented."

Western Cape health worker Mpumi Mantangana, who cares for more than 2 000 
people living with Aids in Khayelitsha, said it was shameful that 
Madlala-Routledge was fired on the eve of Women's Day.

"By losing people like Nozizwe, this government has taken a step backwards. 
But she has simply passed on the baton and the rest of us must take up the 
fight. I am sure I will be the next Nozizwe," she predicted.

She encouraged Madlala-Routledge to use her position as a backbencher in 
parliament to continue her campaign "for proper healthcare".

Presidential spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said Mbeki had clarified 
himself with regard to the dismissal of Madlala-Routledge.

"We have noted that in spite of these clarifications, there are some who 
continue to peddle untruths about the reasons for President Mbeki's decision 
to relieve her of her duties," he said. 

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