Honour heroine with unity

THE best tribute the ANC leadership can pay to Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is to build unity within the ruling party.

This was the message from ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe, who addressed a memorial service held for the former health minister in Durban yesterday.

"It is important that we, the current crop of leaders, do not dent the image of this brand - the ANC - by fighting one another," Manteshe said.

And at a service in Pretoria Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said: "There can be no biography of Tshabalala-Msimang outside the historical context of the ANC - just as the history of the ANC would be inadequate without the illustrious role of this dedicated revolutionary."

"Present detractors would do well to go back in time and get to know the remarkable sacrifices she made, including the creation of freedom of speech in our country.

"As a person she, like the rest of us, had strengths and weaknesses."

Mantashe called on ANC leaders to speak "in one voice and not shout at each other."

His call comes amid public spats within the ANC-led tripartite alliance.

Mantashe also decried the fact that when Tshabalala-Msimang came under attack for her controversial policy on HIV-Aids, no ANC leaders defended her.

"When one member is being attacked and is under siege, don't fold your arms and say it's only happening to one person but (rather) defend each other ..."

The former health minister drew much local and international criticism when she questioned the use of antiretrovirals to fight the Aids virus.

The memorial service, held in Durban's city hall, was attended by ANC NEC members such as Tokyo Sexwale, Mathews Phosa, Bathabile Dlamini, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini and the whole of KwaZulu-Natal government executive.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said the ANC would continue to implement the policies Tshabalala-Msimang stood for . which were part of either ANC or government policy.