Hail, Your Excellency, Msholozi, I wish you well

As a tried and tested Zulu man myself it would take some time and a well-rehearsed effort to understand that Msholozi must now be referred to as "Your Excellency".

As a tried and tested Zulu man myself it would take some time and a well-rehearsed effort to understand that Msholozi must now be referred to as "Your Excellency".

After all these years Jacob Zuma, the current ANC president and South African president-elect, has carried himself as a humble and an ordinary man, much to my admiration despite his elevated position in the political sphere.

During the two years when Your Excellency was the inaugural chairman of the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) I marvelled at his simplicity.

This characteristic is probably the one reason why the majority of the populace found his personality so appealing.

In fact, the aloofness of the intellectuals around him probably made them mistake his lack of sophistication as a major weakness.

For instance at all the Sanac meetings I attended, particularly during the tense and controversial times when the civil servants were instructed to defend the irresponsible debate of whether HIV causes Aids, Gedleyihlekisa always carried a charming and infectious smile on his face.

Amost without fail he would open the proceedings in his native language. At one of those meetings, a multiracial one, he had everyone in stitches when he felt obliged to interpret something he had articulated in Zulu about the Aids debacle.

"I did not say much really, I was just greeting and welcoming everyone," he asserted as he laughed his lungs out.

No one is under any illusion about the daunting task that awaits the president-elect in relation to the great optimism and expectation that was created in the run-up to the elections. As a massive community of people living with HIV and Aids we are no exception.

Needless to say, Msholozi's personal brush with the possibility of infection probably leaves him with a greater sense of appreciation and empathy for those among us who remain infected with this virus.

So I want to impress on him the need to rise above both Madiba and Thabo Mbeki in terms of providing active commitment and leadership within the HIV-Aids fraternity.

The greatest lesson from all of us is from the greatest president of all time, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who despite the overwhelming adoration he still enjoys had the humility to apologise because he felt that he should have done more for people living with HIV during his presidency.

Notwithstanding Zuma's own personal indiscretions, he must take full responsibility for ensuring that access to treatment for people living with HIV is increased immeasurably and secondly, to show incredible leadership in the prevention campaign that continues to elude our people.

On behalf of millions of people living with HIV both in and outside our borders, I wish you well and hope we will meet shortly.

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