As we approach World Aids Day on the 1st of December, South Africa's controversial and unpopular Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala- Msimang, has caused yet another stir. Known as “Dr.Garlic” for her advocacy of garlic, lemon juice and olive oil as a solution for Aids sufferers instead of supplying much needed anti retro-vital drugs, this time around she has been the subject of media attention by blaming the old apartheid government for South Africa's HIV/AIDS pandemic. Jonty at The Fishbowl has the story:
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…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.
Dr Garlic has been lucky to avoid too much attention with her latest blunder, because hogging the media headlines as always, and particularly over the past week, is the saga of South Africa's embattled former deputy president Jacob Zuma. Not only has Mr Zuma been charged with corruption, but adding to his woes, he has now been accused of rape. His police docket was yesterday handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority who will decide whether or not to prosecute him on the rape charge. He has also been asked to provide blood for DNA testing to see if this matches the semen on the alleged victim's underpants. Fodder takes a look at how this latest development is affecting Zuma's support base which comes from Cosatu (the Congress of South African Trade Unions) and the communist party:
The problem for COSATU was their support for Zuma was never a rational policy decision and it soon gathered a life of their own. Unfortunately Zuma was not their best option for a workers leader and slowly they are figuring that out, but now they're too far down that road for the break up to not be very messy and at the end of the day they're going to look very stupid and probably weakened.
South Africa is home to a fairly large Muslim community that is highly emotionally attached to the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict. It is also home to a smaller Jewish community which also has a strong emotional attachment to the Middle East conflict. Middle East politics relating to Israel and the Palestinian territories get a lot of media coverage in South African newspapers, and is often the subject of heated debate on radio talk back shows with the two groups seeming to be unable to understand one another or find any common ground. The issue has found its way into the South African blogosphere, most notably with two blogs, one writing from a pro-Israel point of view, and the other from a pro-Palestinian point of view. Steve at It's Almost Supernatural aims to highlights what he feels is media bias in favour of the Palestinians. In his latest post he blogs about Professor Solomon Hussein, a South African Muslim academic who recently visited the Middle East on a fact finding mission:
Solomon recently visited Israel and the Palestinian territories on a fact-finding mission to explore the conflict. His conclusion? Most South African Muslims do not understand the conflict and at best have a simplistic understanding of it. Solomon’s conclusion is hard hitting and he will no doubt face a backlash from the South African Muslim community…
Muhammad at The Front Line highlights what he seems to feel is the unreasonably brutal treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli's. He takes a look at the recent protest by Palestinian school children:
“The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressors are the minds of the oppressed.” – Steve Biko
…You can take our land, but you will never take us… you will never win… you will never sleep peacefully while this injustice lives in your name.
Finally, Trudi at The Hope Flower raises interesting questions about so called Black elitism in South Africa:
…the judgement from the left is that Mbeki has contributed to the creation of a ‘parasitic black elite'… I guess the white elite was parasitic from day one. Now it's not clear what the left thinks on the matter of meritocracy and excellence, but I think they have diagnosed the elite problem correctly. I resent that the fact that any developing world elite is assumed to be predatory, wheras a western one is assumed to have some basis in achievement…