Beware ... lightning might just strike twice

First and foremost, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to each and everyone who sent me encouraging and well wishing messages while I was away and also to assure those who suspected that I had left Sowetan that I am still an important part of the family.

First and foremost, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to each and everyone who sent me encouraging and well wishing messages while I was away and also to assure those who suspected that I had left Sowetan that I am still an important part of the family.

Needless to say, so much has happened since the last time we spoke, especially on the political front with regard to the "recall" of former president Thabo Mbeki and the subsequent redeployment of minister of health Manto Tshabalala Msimang to the Presidency.

Let me also take this opportunity to welcome new incumbent Barbara Hogan to the hottest seat in the government.

I must hasten to say that it was refreshing to hear new President Kgalema Motlanthe emphasising that HIV-Aids is at the top of his agenda in terms of areas that need special focus.

I think this pronouncement is crucial because it shows a clear change of direction from the previous hierarchy, under which this incurable infection that has maimed and killed thousands was treated as a sideshow.

This is a most welcome recommitment to our collective struggle for life against this largely sexually transmitted infection.

Through the years civil servants where caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, people employed in government always knew about the reality of HIV-Aids and, most importantly, were dying or burying their loved ones.

At the same time , they were expected to toe the line in terms of the government's denialist tendencies that wasted a lot of time and lives in a painful process.

There is absolutely no shadow of a doubt in my infected mind that the former president took a self-destructive gamble with a disease that affected and infected and killed millions of his own people.

His laissez-faire attitude frustrated people in his own administration who knew the truth about the devastating impact of HIV-Aids, yet were silenced into submission. Only a handful had the courage to speak up against the snail's pace at which the government was moving in addressing this pertinent matter.

So the appointment of Motlanthe and Hogan serves as a breath of fresh air after the whole episode of unnecessary loss of life when HIV has been proven to be a manageable by countries poorer than South Africa .

Having said that, I think Julius Malema, president of the ANC Youth League, should heed the fall of the former president.

This means that he should never neglect or sideline his own constituency by spending time focusing on issues that have no direct bearing on young people in this country.

Young people are challenged by tangible and daunting challenges that call for his urgent, undivided attention and commitment from him as their leader.

Young people are dropping out of school on a daily basis, teenage pregnancy and violence have reached endemic proportions, drug addiction and HIV-Aids are ravaging the lives of our future leaders, as we speak.

This brotherly advice is important, otherwise it is possible that lightning might strike twice.

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