James Forsyth

Mbeki still in denial

Mbeki still in denial
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Perhaps the most depressing story in the papers today is the one about how Thabo Mbeki remains an “AIDS dissident.” The Guardian reports how Mark Gevisser, a biographer of Mbeki, found that Mbeki regretted having withdrawn from the debate over the link between HIV and AIDS. 

Here’s the key section:

“Mr Gevisser recounts how Mr Mbeki phoned him late on a Saturday evening in June to discuss Aids. The president asked the respected Johannesburg author whether he had seen a 100-page paper secretly authored by Mr Mbeki and distributed anonymously among the ANC leadership six years ago. It compared Aids scientists to latter-day Nazi concentration camp doctors and portrayed black people who accepted orthodox Aids science as "self-repressed" victims of a slave mentality. It describes the "HIV/Aids thesis" as entrenched in "centuries-old white racist beliefs and concepts about Africans".  

The author said he did have a copy but the next day a driver from the presidency arrived with an updated and expanded version. "There is no question as to the message Thabo Mbeki was delivering to me along with this document: he was now, as he had been since 1999, an Aids dissident," the author writes.”It is depressing that in a country that is being so devastated by the disease, theHIV prevalence rate among 18 to 49 years olds is 18.8%, the president still refuses to engage with the science.  

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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