Small Victories and Big Losses
When Manto was ill earlier this year, her deputy, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, blew in like a fresh summer breeze, saying all the right things on AIDS, taking all the right steps, and giving many of us hope that Government was in fact, changing its spots with respect to its AIDS policies. With her sudden and unexplained dismissal yesterday
, we see that her presence was a mere anomaly.
Her presence though, was exactly what Government needed, a softer, more empathetic voice in the fight against AIDS in our nation, a person who was clearly passionate about making a real difference, and someone significantly more in touch with the sentiment of the nation. However, she in amongst this passion, she found herself having to disagree with the President's (and Manto's) lines on HIV-AIDS, something that no deputy cabinet member can do. This clearly, is the reason for her dismissal, although Mbeki once again showed his cold breath, with the insistence - through his spokesperson naturally - that he "was not obliged to give reasons for cabinet appointments and dismissals".
The only question at the time of her make dissenting assertions was, are these reflected in a new policy change from Government, of which she was the sounding board? We now have our answer.
It is undoubtedly a sad day for AIDS sufferers in this country, and for the nation at large. One can only expect to see a return to the darker days of Manto's insistence on alternative remedies in lieu of successful medical treatment.
Madlala-Routledge is holding a press conference in Cape Town today, let's hope she goes down swinging.