Sunday, 06 December 2009

Mbeki not alone in this

South Africans or people in general have a tendency of kicking a dog while it's down. And this is not to say a human being is a dog. But still, some people, especially women tend to call us man dogs and we live with it.

Recently there have been calls – somewhat ill-informed and them actually not solving whatever problems let alone coming close to doing that – by some within the political circles and 'experts' in South Africa that former president Thabo Mbeki should be charged with genocide, together with the then health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. The call comes after AIDS/HIV statistics in the country were released this week.

The statistics reportedly indicate that approximately 5.7 million South Africans were living with HIV/AIDS in 2009.

Young Communist League national secretary Buti Manamela blamed Mbeki for his denial of a link between HIV and AIDS. "He made a mockery of our country and failed to provide sound political guidance to a nation in crisis".

Manamela said Mbeki's "argument that there is a link between poverty and HIV/AIDS stigmatised the diseases. His theory that the prescription of ARVs should be linked to a good meal demoralised health practitioners" such that it 'lead to some of them being persecuted, thus creating further damage to an already deteriorating healthcare situation'. What shocked everyone at the time was when Mbeki said he did not know of anyone who died of the disease.

His attitude inhibited South Africa's war on HIV/Aids and did not assist the situation or challenge the youth (who are the most affected) to change their behaviour(sic), attitudes and lifestyle in order to prevent HIV infection, Manamela said in his statement which appeared at Politicsweb web site last week.

President Jacob Zuma is reported to have slept with an HIV+ woman without using a condom and later took a shower (with the hope that he will not get infected?) and his supporters continued to support him – not whether he was right to have sex with her or not for she was HIV+ and despite the outcry by members of the public – and no one from the political circle (the ANC especially) condemned Zuma and his supporters. Now, how assisting is that attitude of Zuma and his supporters in challenging the 'youth, attitude and [their] lifestyle in order to prevent HIV infection' as Manamela claims?

Manamela continued: "It was never government or ANC policy to deny the link between HIV and Aids, or to deny people antiretroviral drugs, even when they were being provided free by foreign governments and NGOs. It was a view held by one individual supported by a group of pseudo-scientists and yes-men who suspected the profit motives of multi-national companies rather than doubt their prescription."

Strangely not once did the YCL or even Manamela for that matter let alone release a statement dismissing 'a view held by one individual supported by a group of pseudo-scientists and yes-men who suspected the profit motives of multi-national companies rather than doubt their prescription' which can be read as Mbeki's.

For this denial was never an 'ANC policy to deny the link between HIV and AIDS' which many have contributed to the high infections within the country especially among the young, YCL therefore wants to hold Mbeki accountable and in order for that to happen: 'a state-led judicial commission with prosecutorial powers to determine whether Mbeki is guilty of mass killing' and that 'a commission of HIV/AIDS similar to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) through which victims and perpetrators will receive their respective justice through forgiveness and remorse' must be set up.

All this 'genocide charging' for one or two people only, Mbeki and Tshabalala-Msimang that is?

Given this, the following questions must be answered:

The purpose, one can gather, of this 'genocide charge' against Mbeki – according to Manamela and despite Mbeki being one of their [the ANC or just a South Africa?] own – is to ensure that he should account 'for his role in this debacle' and that should act as a 'lesson that one must take responsibility for one's actions'.

If by taking 'responsibility for one's actions' means contributing to the deaths of many people in South Africa directly or indirectly by denying them medicines, then yes but to a certain extent. However, it is not Mbeki (and whoever with) who entirely responsible for even the deaths of those who had negligent sexual intercourses – possibly multiple partners – with people with high chances of being affected or infected by HIV/AIDS and thereby more infections of the disease and the passing on therefore. More than that, not once did Mbeki et all hold people at gun point for using protection when they did at the time and when they actually had the right(s), time and choice to do so but chose not to.

More than anything else when Mbeki was thought to be what some people think he was 'aloof' at the time and considering his leadership style, people never boycotted that, especially the ANC itself. Everyone kept quiet, except the Treatment Action Campaign when it won a court case in which pregnant women were then allowed to take ARVs to prevent passing the disease on to the child before birth.

And it cannot be dismissed that 'government's policies were however responsible for denying access to life-saving medication through the public health sector' as indicates South African Institute of Race Relation deputy CEO Frans Cronje.

There is no better truth such as this one that during Mbeki's presidential term – before he was toppled last year December at Polokwane, the South African "Parliament had the legal, and the ANC the political, power to remove him from office. Not once in this period did a member of his cabinet publicly disagree with him or resign in protest. The ANC therefore shares collective responsibility with Thabo Mbeki. What is often described as Thabo Mbeki's Aids policy would in fact be better described as the ANC's Aids policy," said Cronje.

Unfortunately, none of that was used as it seems to be used presently when he is no longer president and no longer has the opportunity (in that at the time he was president of the country and now he's just a member of an ANC like any other) to can question his motives at the time. And instead, he was only removed from the office and as president of the country "over a simple power play in the ruling alliance suggesting that the party saw an internal power squabble as a more serious than the deaths of so many of their own suppers"

It would be justice to repeat what one said a while back – when former ANCYL Fikile Mbalula "accused Mbeki of failing to defend the unity and integrity of the ANC which was central to the former president of the country Nelson Mandela's message - to defend its unity and integrity as committed disciples of change - and should have been a beacon in his leadership of the ANC." – that "Therefore, it will suffice to say, not only will have Mbeki failed as president of the country and the ANC, but the organization he was a president to will have too failed because no disciplinary actions were levelled against him which will have prompted the same organization to bring forward concrete evidence which after consultation and thorough consideration will have rendered Mbeki grossly/slightly guilty for such allegations or not, as suggested and accused by Mbalula."

I continued: "Furthermore, Mbalula will also be guilty for whatever allegations he's levelling against Mbeki. This is because as member of the ruling party which Mbeki was a president to and a member of, he himself failed to initiate disciplinary actions to the ANC Disciplinary Committee against Mbeki.
As a result, accordingly, not is or will Mbeki be guilty alone (for allegations which maybe have to be proved valid in a court of law and not through political conspiracy suspicions as it seems to be the norm on the present days) but the entire ANC and all its members will certainly also be guilty for failing to take such disciplinary actions against him when it deemed necessary, valid and authentic will also be guilty.

"And it cannot be disputed that Mbeki as leader of the ANC or any organization, if these allegations could be proved true, should and could have been held accountable by both the ANC which he should and was expected to report back to at the time and later to the citizens.
As a result, because Mbeki failed in his capacity as president of the country in whatever he may have not succeeded in, the entire ANC will have therefore failed the citizens.

"Most importantly, this is not an attempt as it may be seen by some quarters, to defend mistakes that could have been make by the president at that time, but an acknowledgement that: yes, Mbeki made mistakes, some negligently, but so did the ANC and the citizens he leads.
Therefore, now that we've acknowledged this, how we move forward from here is the question that all South Africans and the likes of Mbalula and the current leadership of the ANC should be trying to answer by coming up with a constructive and solution to.
It will be question, and many others, that will take South Africa and its people forward and not back to a time when Mbeki or Mandela were still president of the country. What can only be learned from their leadership and presidency, as citizens, is what could be changed for the better and improved on in taking us moving forward."

One has to agree with Sipho Nghona who described Manamela's somewhat ill-informed decision for charging Mbeki for genocide as "ignorant, immature and opportunistic at best."

As collective as the ANC always claims (one says this for YCL is also part of the alliance) Nghona is right to say: "[W]e all acknowledge that some serious mistakes were made during Mbeki's tenure, but we should be big enough to acknowledge that these took place collectively under the watch of President Zuma, who at the time was the country's Deputy President and Chairman of the South African National AIDS Council. The ANC and its alliance partners pride themselves in collectivism and implementing ANC policy in Government. Why is it now convenient to castigate a leader of Mbeki's stature when collectively they could have avoided their now publicised concern?"

Fortunately for Mbeki, while sadly for Manamela, ANCYL present Julius Malema is reported to have said that "the ANC Youth League would not allow former president Thabo Mbeki to be charged with genocide". Whether he will be supported on this call as he's always, if not most of the time, opposed to remains to be seen.

Malema is quoted as saying, according to, that: "we must never surrender our leaders ....
Thabo Mbeki might have made mistakes but we can never charge him.
We must not charge one of our own. If we allow that, the same thing would happen to [Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe, and the same would happen to [President Jacob] Zuma, and the next thing you know they will come for you,"
at Pan African Youth Union at Emperor's Palace in Boksburg last month, November 2009.

Sadly and as some fail to reason, "blaming Mr Mbeki will never solve any problems, but will be a catalyst to fuel more divisions and anarchy than finding meaningful solutions that will benefit millions of South Africans," says Nghona.

What problem or whatever issues people may have with Mbeki will his charge of genocide solve any way? Will it be just one of those 'political settling scores' one wonders.

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