Cape cleric calls for Manto’s head

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane says it is perhaps time Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang quits and looks for another job.

He was reacting on Wednesday to renewed speculation that a R600-million grant from the United Nations to fight Aids in KwaZulu-Natal could be in jeopardy.

He said it appeared the money was being withheld because of renewed bureaucratic bungling.

”We were happy yesterday that this was going to be released, and today we find another story.

”The more we dither, the more people die, and so if our health minister, if it is true that this is the case, then I think she must look for another job.”

Ndungane said South Africa had one of the best national Aids strategies in the world, and it needed to be driven from the top.

”If leadership is not there, then we must find another leader to drive that.”

Ndungane, who returned at the weekend from the Barcelona Aids 2002 conference, said the message of the conference was clear, that the time for talk and political prevarication was over.

The public and private sectors worked alone at their peril and collaborated strategies were imperative.

The key challenges were to change behavioural patterns and eradicate the stigma that made it so difficult for people to seek the help they needed.

”Above all we dare not lose hope. We cannot allow ourselves to be paralysed by despair and I’m greatly concerned by subsequent reports that Barcelona killed that hope.

”On the contrary, many of us have been re-enthused to work ever harder at facilitating a generation without Aids.”

Ndungane said he did not ask those who were out of step with commonly held beliefs on HIV and Aids to change their opinion.

What he did expect was that they should accept their responsibilities within the framework of democratic principles, and work within universal norms.

What was needed now in South Africa was a speedy response to the constitutional court ruling that nevirapine be made available to HIV-positive pregnant women.

Ndungane said he extended his hand and heart to government to work in partnership.

”We must eliminate the fear fuelled by misinformation and dithering about response and responsibility. We must unite in a stand for hope.” – Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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