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Vol 44 No 4

Published 21st February 2003

South Africa

The blame game

AIDS policy is still disastrous, though the President now leaves it to his Health Minister

The blame for South Africa's peculiar policies on HIV/AIDS is shifting from President Thabo Mbeki to his Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, caricatured by local AIDS activists as 'Dr. No' or 'Dr. Do-Little'. Mbeki may have begun backing away from his own controversial stand on the pandemic, as his handlers advise him to keep his 'dissident' views private. The survival of Tshabalala-Msimang, who has come to symbolise the government's catstrophic mishandling of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, is puzzling. A cynical view is that Tshabalala-Msimang, a medical doctor who initially didn't share Mbeki's pathological opposition to anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment, is a useful lightning conductor for a policy that is despised by most South African voters.

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