Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stephen Lewis: Mbeki presiding over apocolypse

Former UN Envoy for AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis has strongly lambasted Thabo Mbeki's decision to fire the lauded deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge:

A former U.N. envoy accused South Africa's leader of presiding over an ``AIDS apocalypse,'' saying Wednesday that President Thabo Mbeki's dismissal of the country's widely praised deputy health minister last week crushed a glimmer of hope in the fight against the epidemic.

Stephen Lewis, who recently retired as U.N. special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, called for international pressure on the government to implement an ambitious anti-AIDS campaign.

``It is said that 900 men, women and children die every day in South Africa of AIDS-related illnesses. It's Armageddon every 24 hours,'' Lewis wrote in an opinion piece for South African newspapers. ``Other than South Africa, every government in the high-prevalence countries is moving heaven and earth to keep its people alive.

Lewis comments on the legacy that this will leave for Mbeki, as well as the greater one that will be left for the South African people:

``No matter the astuteness of his economic policy, social interventions, financial acumen, or peacekeeping initiatives across the continent, he will always be known as the president who presided over the AIDS apocalypse,'' Lewis said.

``It's a terrible legacy with which to haunt the pages of history.''

Read the entire article here.