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September 24, 2008

Will Manto finally go?

I’m still stunned and shocked by the sudden ousting of Thabo Mbeki as president of South Africa, and particularly by the manner of his departure. There have been plenty of reasons to remove Mbeki in recent years — his refusal to acknowledge the AIDS crisis top among them. But Mbeki didn’t fall because of his policies, which would have been a victory for democracy, but rather through political infighting. What this means for the AIDS fight, and for South Africa’s future, remains uncertain.One looming question is what will happen to Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Mbeki’s errant health minister and the proud proponent of garlic, olive oil and beetroot as a cure for AIDS. Her name hasn’t appeared on the lists of ministers who have resigned in solidarity with Mbeki.  It’s conspicuously absent from these lists of Mbeki loyalists (although some of the ministers who have resigned say they are willing to join the new government).Mbeki hasn’t mentioned AIDS in years and although he stopped openly opposing efforts to combat the epidemic, neither has he offered any leadership. Jacob Zuma — South Africa’s president-in-waiting — has made the right noises about AIDS, at least on a policy level (his personal behavior is a different thing, see my earlier post on this). But Manto’s fate will be a strong indication of his true colors.

3 Responses to “Will Manto finally go?”

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