Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mbeki Has "Blood On His Hands" says Aids Activist Zachie Achmat

The Treatment Action Campaign's Zackie Achmat says that former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki's 1999 decision to block access to AIDS drugs has left him with "bood on his hands" according to a BBC report.

Achmat's comment comes on the heels of a Harvard School of Public Health study that argues Mbeki's condemnation of AIDS drugs as toxic and dangerous led to 330,000 deaths.

The study also says that Mbeki's policies during the period of 2000-2005 led to 35 000 babies being born HIV-positive.

In September 2008 Achmat wrote an article entitled "Crimes of the Great Denialist" that is even more expansive in its coverage of numbers of people infected with HIV and those who succumed to the disease.

Achmat does not mix his words when condemning Mbeki. He writes:
"... his culpability in the death of hundreds of thousands of ­people in South Africa with HIV/Aids cannot be underestimated and its impact will be felt for generations. Death certification by Stats SA shows more than 1,5-million deaths in the ages 0-49 and more than two million new infections during his rule. The long-overdue roll-out of a comprehensive antiretroviral programme, compounded by state-sponsored pseudo-science, has left 524 000 people desperately in need of the life-saving treatment unable to access it. As a direct result life expectancy has dropped every year Mbeki has been in office."
Achmat and the Treatment Action Campaign are credited with forcing the South African government to overturn Mbeki's HIV/AIDS policies. Achmat is now calling for Mbeki to be held accountable. He advocates that the former president be summoned to a judicial commission.

Mbeki, as you know, was unceremoniously kicked out as president in September this year. Since then a new Health Minister, Babara Hogan, has been appointed by caretaker president Kgalema Motlanthe and the word is that she is more progressive about dealing with HIV/AIDS and its related issues.

Achmat, like Mbeki, is an African National Congress(ANC) member and has in recent days said that he will not leave the party. I am interested to know how the new leadership of the ANC will respond to Achmat's comments.

I don't expect that Mbeki will be called to answer the accusations that the Harvard study contains.

Geez broer, it is not lekker to be Mbeki anymore.


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