Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Manto blames AIDS on the Nats
There have always been those (including myself) that have blamed apartheid for some of South Africa's worst social ills, but Manto's statement that "the apartheid government was to blame for the rapid spread of Aids in South Africa" is far off base.

Manto says that the former apartheid regime is to blame for the current spread of AIDS because of their lack of healthcare implementation in their final years of power. UNAids states that national adult HIV prevalence was less than one percent in 1990 (in South Africa), but grew exponentially to almost 25 percent in 2000.

Blaming the apartheid regime here is more of Manto's 'head in the sand' mentality. The meteoric rise of AIDS (unfortunately) took place on the watch of the Mandela government, and whilst the early Nineties held the seeds of that exponential growth, the transient Government of National Unity had influence on health policy for the majority of that period. Rina Venter, the National Party who was the health minister of that time alleges that Manto was personally involved in drawing up the AIDS policy in the early Nineties.

Manto states that "It was only after the advent of democracy that tangible efforts were made by the government to curb the spread of HIV infection; provide treatment, care and support for those infected and affected; and address the stigma associated with HIV and Aids." This is untrue. Mandela has personally said that one of his biggest regrets was his government's lack of action over AIDS in that critical period of his term in the mid-Nineties.

Manto should forget the past, and start looking at what is doing now to curb the scourge of HIV-AIDS in South Africa. Excuses will not affect infection rates.