South Africa - HIV/Aids, Who Is Accountable?
Will Thabo Mbeki ever be held responsible for AIDS crisis?
In an address at Rustenburg, South Africa, the Communist League leader, Buti Manamela, called for past President Thabo Mbeki and his Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang to be charged with genocide for their handling of the HIV-Aids pandemic.
At a gala dinner of the Pan African Youth Union in Boksburg, Julius Malema, the leader of the African National Congress Youth League, responded to this call and said that the ANCYL “would not allow” Mbeki to be charged. He went on to say, "Thabo Mbeki might have made mistakes, but we can never charge him. We must not charge one of our own.”
Now the whole debate around who is to be held accountable for the thousands who died, rages on. However, hidden in Malema’s response is a dangerous attitude which has brought untold suffering upon thousands of ordinary people in Africa.
Firstly, the phrase, “would not allow” is certainly not the kind of phraseology you would use in a democracy, “we would oppose” would be more appropriate. Secondly, “We must not charge one of our own,” means that you protect leaders at all costs from being brought to justice for crimes against the very people they are called upon to serve. Africa is full of this notion and one need only look at Sudan, Zimbabwe, the DRC and the many others for similar examples. Closer to home, of course, is the HIV-AIDS catastrophe and the ruling party’s misplaced loyalties in dealing with it.
How did Thabo Mbeki and his health minister get it so wrong? That’s the burning question. Analysis and evaluations are popping up everywhere, but has he finally grasped the ludicrousness of his past decisions and the massive dimensions of pain caused? We hope so.
What about the issue of accountability? That question has yet to be answered, though the proclamation,“we must not charge one of our own” speaks volumes. In the meantime, 6 million people lay dying.