Over the weekend, the head of South Africa’s Inkatha
Freedom Party made a scathing attack against the ANC-led government.
IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi accused the government of having lost the war on HIV/AIDS. He says in KwaZulu-Natal Province, an
IFP stronghold, up to 40 percent of the population may be infected with HIV, the AIDS virus.
Reverend Musa Zondi is the secretary-general of the Inkatha Freedom Party. From Durban, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why his party accused the government of losing the war against HIV/AIDS.
“Well, because we think they were very tardy in tackling this war from the very beginning because they do have the tools, because they are controlling the government,” he says.
Zondi says the government began losing the war on HIV/AIDS in 2000, when President Thabo Mbeki questioned the link between HIV and the disease. He also says comments made by the country’s Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang about using things like beets to fight HIV have contributed to the problem.
In his speech, Buthelezi said, “It is clear before God and man that the entire war on HIV and AIDS has not been waged with any degree of piety, responsibility and care.”
Zondi comments, “Precisely because, you see, the South African government in the context of the continent of Africa is well endowed with the resources to actually do something significant to actually push the frontiers of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. But instead of doing so, they always waited to be cajoled, to be pushed around and so on.”
The African National Congress says the ongoing criticism of the Health Minister is undermining the common struggle against HIV/AIDS. And it says with its national anti-retroviral drug program it has a comprehensive response to the pandemic, which it calls one of the greatest challenges to South African society.