15 questions for Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Thabo Mbeki. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)



Mr Ex-president, your Monday missive to historical revisionists repeats and re-endorses the “Castro Hlongwane” document you co-wrote, which muddles a variety of issues – whether HIV causes Aids, the West and big pharma’s conspiracy against Africans, the toxicity of antiretrovirals, and the linked causative factors (such as poverty). If you haven’t changed your views on Aids since 2002, does that make you a denialist?


Have you taken in any new scientific discourse on the matter in the past 13 years?


When you say: “We publish this as part of the series … on the ‘Mbeki Presidency’,” why are the last two words in quotes? Are you implying it was imaginary?


You quote approvingly from an interview with Luc Montagnier, codiscoverer of the HI virus. In it, he is asked: “If you take a poor African who’s been infected and you build up their immune system, is it possible for them to also naturally get rid of it?” Montagnier says: “I would think so.” Have you, Mr Mbeki, in the eight years since this interview, found any “scientifically substantiated” (your words) proof that Aids can indeed be cured naturally?


How many people in South Africa were cured of Aids by your health minister’s recommendation of beetroot, lemon and the African potato?


You ask why, if “Castro Hlongwane” said the same thing as Montagnier, you were wrong.
Are you unaware of the many refutations of Montagnier?


Did you not agree with Peter Duesberg, who discovered the retrovirus (the virus group HIV belongs to) and said Aids was caused by recreational drugs? (Or were you confused by the fact that Duesberg said HIV was harmless?)


Are you aware of the Egyptian military’s view, in 2014, that electromagnetism could “detect” HIV?


If HIV does not cause Aids, why were you so heavily invested in a proposed cure, toxic Virodene?


Were you aware that, in 2000, the Medicines Control Council said the benefits of using antiretrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmission outweighed the risks?


Are you unaware, today, of the millions able to live with HIV because of antiretroviral drugs?


Deaths from HIV have dropped since patients started getting antiretrovirals. If that is not the reason for their survival, what is?


People on antiretrovirals are recovering from opportunistic infections. If those infections aren’t caused by the virus, why do they respond to antiretrovirals?


You write: “I never said ‘HIV does not cause Aids’ … What I said is that?‘a virus cannot cause a syndrome’.” In the context, doesn’t that come to the same thing?


When you ask: “Am I wrong in this regard?”, is that a rhetorical question?

Shaun de Waal

Shaun de Waal

Shaun de Waal has worked at the Mail & Guardian since 1989. He was literary editor from 1991 to 2006 and chief film critic for 15 years. He is now editor-at-large. Recent publications include Exposure: Queer Fiction, 25 Years of the Mail & Guardian and Not the Movie of the Week. Read more from Shaun de Waal

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