IFP women in uproar over Mbeki Aids stance

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

President Thabo Mbeki's dissident theories about HIV and Aids were blasted by the IFP Women's Brigade at the weekend.

Delegates at the brigade's conference expressed concern about Mbeki's beliefs on the killer disease that has engulfed the nation.

The women said they hoped that the ANC would elect a leader with a clear mind on HIV and Aids at the ruling party's conference in Polokwane in December.

IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi had earlier expressed similar concerns about Mbeki's position on the scourge.

"I was distressed to read that Mark Gevisser's new biography on Mbeki purports that our president still maintains dissident theories about Aids," Buthelezi said. "I hope that this is not true, but I have no doubt that the perception is paralysing. I was the first one to praise President Mbeki's many achievements, but the persistence of Aids denialism continues to blight our political landscape. Women have borne the brunt of this nonsense."

He said women should send a clear massage in Polokwane, spelling out that HIV and Aids was the biggest challenge facing South Africa apart from poverty.

"Whoever emerges next month must express a clear lead on HIV and Aids," he said.

The IFP leader said South Africa had recently made its mark in sports "but we are also failing dismally".

"We are persistently failing the poor, the unemployed and those who are infected or affected by HIV and Aids."

"Fifty-eight percent of HIV-positive South Africans are women, or just over 3million out of the 5,5 million affected adults aged 15 and over. This is not fair, for it is women who must succumb to our sexual demands. And it is women who are victims of rape and are more exposed to this infection than men."