YESTERDAY President Jacob Zuma addressed the National Council of Provinces on his government’s approach to Aids. He quoted official statistics and warned of the dire state of the country’s health before mapping out government’s comprehensive response.
It was a deliberately calculated move.
For it was 10 years to the day since his predessor Thabo Mbeki addressed the same chamber, outlining his skepticism over Aids and questioning the official statistics. Mbeki famously told the house it would be “irresponsible” to roll out antiretroviral drugs, a decision which subsequently cost hundreds of thousands of lives according to a Harvard academic study.
Mbeki said: “There also exists a large volume of scientific literature alleging that, among other things, the toxicity of this drug is such that it is a danger to health. These are matters of great concern to the government as it would be irresponsible for us not to heed the dire warnings [of] medical researchers”.
By contrast, Zuma said yesterday: “We must come to terms with this reality. If we do not respond with urgency and resolve, we may well find our vision of a thriving nation slipping from our grasp.”