South Africa: Mbeki sacks deputy health minister/ Afrique du Sud: Mbeki renvoie sa vice-ministre de la santé

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Il semble que parce qu’elle faisait du bon travail, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (voir photo) a été renvoyée de son poste de vice-ministre de la santé par le président Thabo Mbeki. (Dans le Guardian de Londres)

Because she seemed to do a good work, the deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (see picture), was sacked by president Thabo Mbeki. This move brought angriness from the NGOs.

London Guardian:

Aids activists furious at sacking by Mbeki· Deputy health minister axed after Spanish visit
· Unions and opposition condemn president

David Beresford in Johannesburg Agencies
Friday August 10, 2007

The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has sparked outrage among Aids activists by firing the highly popular deputy health minister on what they claimed were trumped up charges.

N. Madlala-RoutledgeNozizwe Madlala-Routledge was sacked for travelling to attend an Aids conference in Spain without the permission of President Mbeki. But campaigners said that Mr Mbeki seized the opportunity to rid himself of a politician who had shown herself prepared to openly criticise government on Aids and other health issues.

President Mbeki has become notorious for denying that Aids is caused by a virus. He is supported by the minister of health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang who is known as Dr Beetroot for her claims that beetroot and garlic can treat Aids.

Dr Tshabalala-Msimang was ill for nine months and has only recently resumed her duties. During the health minister’s illness, Ms Madlala-Routledge mended fences with activists in the Treatment Action Campaign and the mainstream medical community and was one of the driving forces behind a new five-year plan which has made reducing the number of new HIV infections one of its main targets, and aims to extend treatment to 80% of those with Aids by 2011.

The firing of Ms Madlala-Routledge was described yesterday by the Treatment Action Committee as a “dreadful error of judgment”. “It indicates that the president still remains opposed to the science of HIV and to appropriately responding to the epidemic. We call on him to reverse his decision,” the committee added.

The deputy minister was fired for going to Spain with her son and a government consultant at a cost of R160,000 (£11,000). His aides said that there had been a mix-up over dates and that the president only refused her permission to make the trip after she had arrived in Spain. It is believed she refused to resign and was then fired.

Reaction to her sacking has demonstrated not only her popularity, but also the deep unpopularity of Mr Mbeki. The parliamentary opposition, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions and the South African Communist party joined in the criticism of the sacking. Cosatu said her firing would “deepen a culture of sycophancy” in the government.

Patricia De Lille, leader of the small Independent Democrats party, noted the dismissal came “just hours before the dawn of our 13th Women’s day”, calling it “an insult to every single South African woman who has the courage to stand up for the truth”.

Ms Madlala-Routledge is a former deputy minister of defence. She is also a Quaker.

Mukoni Ratshitanga, a spokesman for Mr Mbeki, said the president did not need to explain his decision. “Members of cabinet and deputy ministers serve at the behest of the president,” he said.