Manto slams 'untruths'

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and the Presidency yesterday came out smoking, shooting down allegations that she abused alcohol while hospitalised in 2005.

Sunday Times reported at the weekend that Tshabalala-Msimang drank red wine and whisky while being treated for a shoulder injury at the Cape Town Medi-Clinic in Hof Street.

Earlier this year, Tshabalala-Msimang underwent a liver transplant.

Yesterday Tshabalala-Msimang told the media that the Sunday Times' report was "full of untruths". She also described the report as "garbage".

The health minister also confirmed that she was seeking legal advice about the allegations. Yesterday the Presidency described the allegations against Tshabalala- Msimang as part of "attempts by some in the media and elsewhere, to demean the person of the minister".

The allegations did not warrant any action from President Thabo Mbeki, the Presidency said in a statement.

The statement also suggested that the allegations against Tshabalala-Msimang were also linked to Mbeki's recent decision to fire Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge who was known not to see eye- to-eye with Tshabalala-Msimang.

"Such allegations seem to bear on recent decisions taken by the President regarding the leadership of the Ministry of Health and to project these in caricature of derogation," the statement said.

Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya is standing by his newspaper's report.

"Our story is 200percent accurate. We investigated the story for five months . We verified and cross-verified the information we had gathered."

Makhanya said his newspaper was not part of any agenda to discredit any government minister. He, however, said the newspaper's position on the firing of Madlala-Routledge was well-known.