The South African President, Thabo Mbeki’s, long war against his own people has just plumbed new depths. Loyalty to the party line is the only thing that matters to him. Everything and everyone else must yield or be sacrificed.
Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge has just been fired. The one and only government minister with the courage, humility, independence and passion to admit the scale of the AIDS pandemic in South Africa and the failure of the ANC government in dealing with it. Her public acknowledgement of AIDS embarrassed the president and her boss, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. That was, by the president’s standards, entirely unforgivable.
Mbeki’s statements about AIDS are intentionally ambiguous but his actions are not. Thirteen years into majority-rule more South Africans have died of AIDS than died through torture and massacre under Apartheid. This is not accidental. It is deliberate government policy. 5.5 million South Africans – 18% of the population – has HIV. 320 000 people a year die of the disease. There are 1.2 million AIDS orphans. In 1994, when the ANC took power, only 1% of the South African population was infected.
The problem was known and there was still time. Chris Hani, one of the leading lights in the ANC, declared in 1990: â€œExisting statistics indicate that we are still at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in our country. Unattended, however, this will result in untold damage and suffering by the end of the century.â€
Not only does the health department continue to debate the nature of HIV and AIDS but their actual mandated medication to solve the problem is (I kid you not): garlic, lemons, beetroot and the African potato (yams).
I do not toss the word genocide about lightly. South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which defines genocide as follows:
Article 7: Crimes against humanity, Section 2 (b)
“Extermination” includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population;
Article 27: Irrelevance of official capacity, Section 1
This Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State or Government, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under this Statute, nor shall it, in and of itself, constitute a ground for reduction of sentence.
In a further move to ensure that no-one gets to disagree with government, parliamentary rules have been changed which drastically limit the time that opposition parties get to speak.
The ANC’s Chief Whip in the council, Bafana Sithole, said: “If a party cannot say what they want to say in eight seconds it is not worth saying”. The ANC’s new speech recommendation included four seconds speaking time for: the Azanian People’s Organisation, the Christian Democratic Party, the Christian Front, independent councilors, Operation Khanyisa Movement, United Democratic Movement, and the Freedom Front Plus.
So, not only has the ANC government fired all the people who were actually attempting to solve the AIDS crisis but they have now entirely emasculated any opportunity for those opposed to their policies to speak against them.
The real losers are the very people that the ANC claims to represent: the poor.