Correctional Services said that “matters are under control” at Johannesburg’s Sun City Prison on Wed.
When the bewildered former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was relieved of her duties, there was much jubilation and excitement among the massive community of people living with HIV.
The euphoria was particularly eloquent and pellucid among those who openly expressed their dislike for Tshabalala-Msimang, which bordered on obsessive hatred.
The popular Barbara Hogan replaced Tshabalala-Msimang.
Needless to say, there was great expectation from Hogan, whose political record and commitment remains unchallengeable, which perhaps is the only attribute she shares with the former minister.
But those of us who have travelled the thorny road of HIV-Aids so long chose to be cautiously optimistic, not necessarily because I doubted Hogan's capabilities, but because I understood that it is the ruling party that designs policies and not the individual who drives a particular department.
Most importantly, it was clear that Hogan's appointment was temporary and therefore, it would be naive to expect her to leave a lasting mark in the health department. Her broom, unfortunately, would not sweep cleaner than anyone else's.
A new face might be in place, but the message, strategy and policies would remain the same.
As you read this, millions of people living with HIV, especially those in rural areas, still do not access treatment, care and support.
The astronomical rate of infection continues to escalate, the number of people dying of Aids-related complications is still the same, the deteriorating standards at public clinics and hospitals continue without any end in sight.
Public health institutions are still under-resourced and staff continue to be over-worked as patients continue to complain with regular monotony.
As they say, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Having said that, the mother of all ironies is that I have not heard a single voice of dissent from any of our vociferous and brutal comrades in the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). One wonders why there is such a blatant application of double standards, if at all the commitment is exclusively to all our people, instead of being loyal to an individual in power.
In all honesty, despite the change of personnel at the top, everything else is still the same.
In more ways than one, I feel let down by my TAC comrades and leaders because I feel that this is the perfect and opportune time for us to be lobbying and increasing the pressure on the powers that be, to ensure that our successes in the past are maintained and that the number of people accessing antiretroviral treatment, care and support is drastically increased.
Through our collective efforts and sacrifices, HIV-Aids has generally become a manageable disease, but the same cannot be said about those who are voiceless, those who are less privileged than we are and those who continue to die like flies on a daily basis
The fact that we seem to have arrived at our comfort zone and have seemingly forsaken those left behind is a travesty of justice and, most tragically, it renders our own struggle meaningless.