'Prove minister is a drunk, thief'

President Thabo Mbeki requires evidence before considering media reports that his Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was an alcoholic and a thief.

President Thabo Mbeki requires evidence before considering media reports that his Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was an alcoholic and a thief.

Presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said the president responded to the Sunday Times' article by reiterating a statement he issued on August 13.

"Anyone with evidence which demonstrates that any minister or deputy minister has acted in dereliction of duty is welcome to forward such evidence to the Presidency," the statement read.

Sunday Times reported that chronic alcoholism was the reason the minister had had a liver transplant.

The article reported that doctors and staff knew Tshabalala-Msimang had been drinking before her liver transplant.

Standard procedure is that alcoholics stop drinking for six to 12 months before surgery, and permanently after surgery.

The newspaper said Tshabalala-Msimang had been convicted of stealing a watch from a patient who was under anaesthetic while she was a superintendent at a Botswana hospital in 1976.

She was then expelled from the country and declared a prohibited immigrant.

An unidentified employee at Athlone Hospital in Lobatse, Botswana, was quoted as saying: "Everyone thinks it's hilarious that she is today a health minister."

Last week Sunday Times also reported the minister drank while in a Cape Town hospital 2005.

- Sapa

X