Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
----------------------------------------------

Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

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Mbeki sets the Times straight

Writes longwinded statement that firing was for group disloyalty

Defends health minister and broad AIDS policy and fires back at press with words and a lawsuit

Real message is “I’m in charge”, not activists or media

lionroars.jpegIn the aftermath of press criticism of the firing of the overreaching deputy health minister, South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki has written a long explanatory statement for the ANC newsletter which wraps his real message in code that possibly only South Africans can interpret accurately.

“I have, during the period you served as Deputy Minister of Defence,
 consistently drawn your attention to the concerns raised by your
 colleagues about your inability to work as part of a collective, as the
 Constitution enjoins us to.

For the same reason, I have also discussed
 this matter with you as Deputy Minister of Health.

 “You traveled to Madrid despite the fact that I had declined your
 request to undertake this trip. It is clear to me that you have no 
intention to abide by the constitutional prescriptions that bind all of 
us. For this reason I suggested to you that you should resign.

” It is clear that you do not accept my advice. This leaves me no choice 
but to relieve you of your duties.”

….

As I said in my 8 August
 letter, the central matter I raised with the former Deputy Minister is 
the issue of the collective responsibility of everybody who serves in
 the National Executive.
I would never have raised this with Ms
 Madlala-Routledge when I spoke to her on 7 August and in the 8 August 
letter, maliciously, with no factual basis. 

I am certain that Ms Madlala-Routledge will recall the instances when I
 spoke to her while she served as Deputy Minister both at Defence and at
 Health, to assist her to understand and respect her obligation to honour 
the fact that she was part of a collective that has a responsibility to
 abide by the decisions of the ANC and the government.

…

However, some, both within our country and internationally, have raised
 an ill-founded and ill-intentioned hue and cry about the dismissal of Ms
Madlala-Routledge….

Some in our country and others elsewhere in the world, including the
 media, have acclaimed Ms Madlala-Routledge as a great heroine, before
 and after her dismissal, on the basis that she seemed to demonstrate 
intellectual and personal “courage” by defying the obligation to speak 
and act as part of a collective. In this regard, in her 10 August press
conference, she made a point of emphasising her obligation to be
 accountable to the media.



Collective responsibility



With regard to all this, I must make the point absolutely clear, without
 equivocation or qualification, that while the ANC serves as government,
in any of the three spheres of government, freely elected by the people,
 it will ensure that its members respect the principle and practice of
 collective responsibility.

…

I refer to our leadership because like others who have decided to
 campaign on the basis of the concocted assertion about “centralisation
 of power in the Presidency”, Ms Madlala-Routledge may entertain the 
illusion that she stayed in government as long as she did on the basis 
of decisions taken by the President, solely and exclusively. 


If this is the case, she, and everybody else, will have to learn the
 basic lesson that the national democratic revolution cannot, and will
 not be advanced on the basis of fabrications….

Contrary to what some have suggested, Ms Madlala-Routledge, like other
 members of the National Executive, has never been denied the right to
 speak her mind both in the Cabinet Committee and the Cabinet meetings.


This also relates to instances when Deputy Ministers have differed with
 their Ministers. Any suggestion to the contrary would be, to speak 
plainly, a blatant lie.

 Similarly, we must underline and emphasise the point that government
 policies are government policies. There is no government policy that
 belongs to individual Ministries or Departments, or even the Presidency.
…

In an article in “The Independent”, Ms Madlala-Routledge said: “I can’t
 say what reason the President had for dismissing me. But I know that the
 Health Minister, back in the driving seat, wanted to reassert her ideas.
We have made progress recently, and I would be saddened and disappointed 
if we were now to be taken back to a time when people were confused
 about Aids treatment.



“I am certain now, that if our Health Minister goes back to talking
 about garlic and beetroot, she will face only ridicule. I am not, I must
 stress, attacking the traditional African medicines that she is keen to 
champion. They have a place in health care.

” But we are dealing with a modern disease. And as with any modern
 disease, we have to subject whatever we propose as a cure, to the most
 rigorous scientific testing…

It is also important for us to hear Mr
 Mbeki’s voice, encouraging people, leading, and showing them that
 HIV/Aids, with treatment, can be managed.”



South Africa, HIV & AIDS



The principal journalist responsible for the many shameless lies told in
”The Independent” seems to be one Katherine Butler, the newspaper’s
 Foreign Editor. It is perfectly obvious that she did not even bother to
 study our government’s 2000-2005 and 2007-2011 HIV/AIDS/STD Strategic
Plans, (NSPs), and their implementation.

….

Despite all the foregoing, and strangely, including the financial
 resources our government and parliament have provided to give substance 
to our NSPs, all of which stand up to any and all international
 comparisons, one of the journalists at the Madlala-Routledge press
conference, who, we must assume, is not familiar with any of the history
 we have indicated, said our country is faced with an ‘international PR
 crisis with regard to HIV and AIDS!’

…

Mbeki stands out

If you read it all through it generally seems to be a massive putdown of the cheeky deputy health minister for her blatant disloyalty and presumption, and an equal putdown of the newspapers such as the British Independent which were equally presumptuous in describing her as putting South African HIV∫AIDS policy on a new track more in line with Mbeki’s activist critics than his comprehensive policy and planning initiatives over the last few years.

All in all, as far as we can judge, this is a round rebuttal of anybody that thinks Mbeki has given in to the forces of scientific darkness that are urging the discredited standard paradigm on South Africa so forcefully, with the disgracefully ignorant support of the New York Times editorial board. As Comments here have noted this week, this is good news for the African babies who are otherwise in line for doses of AZT that are body weight equivalent to the high doses that killed as many as 300,000 Americans in the years before 1995.

It is a strange situation that the only battleground where the paradigm is being challenged is in the most developed country in Africa, the continent that became the new market for AIDS drugs once the US was fully supplied, even though its “AIDS” had nothing in common with the shape and symptoms of the supposed epidemic in the US.

Thus we have, in effect, the South African President telling the New York Times to get lost – and knowing more about the science than the editors and readers of that otherwise still great newspaper.

Mbeki maintains broad support, broad policy

In this stance he is not isolated, however, but as he emphasizes, in his long time caution about AIDS and rational unwillingness to base South African policy on the narrow base of an uncritical acceptance of the HIV paradigm, he has the collective support of the leaders of his party and his Cabinet.

Contrary to what some have suggested, Ms Madlala-Routledge, like other
 members of the National Executive, has never been denied the right to
 speak her mind both in the Cabinet Committee and the Cabinet meetings.


This also relates to instances when Deputy Ministers have differed with
 their Ministers. Any suggestion to the contrary would be, to speak 
plainly, a blatant lie.

 Similarly, we must underline and emphasise the point that government
 policies are government policies. There is no government policy that
 belongs to individual Ministries or Departments, or even the Presidency.


Our government is not made up of a federation or coalition of ministers,
or a Presidential autocracy.

As prescribed by our Constitution, and in terms of the practice we have 
entrenched since 1994, all government policies are approved by the 
Cabinet. This includes the legislation that the National Executive
 submits to the National Legislature. 
Accordingly, the President and the rest of the Cabinet take full
 responsibility even for some of the contested draft legislation 
currently being considered by our National Parliament.

 In this context I must also emphasise that there is not even one
 important policy and programmatic initiative that our government has
 taken since 1994 that has not been based on decisions taken by the
 constitutional structures of the ANC.

The fantasy of Ms Madlala-Routledge and her media and activist supporters that she has led Mbeki and his government into giving up this caution and blindly following HIV∫AIDS thinking seems to have been misplaced.

There remains one significant political leader who is aware of the exceptionally questioned status of the global HIV∫AIDS paradigm, and the repeated challenge to its validity and contradiction of its claims in the top scientific literature.

That is to say, one significant politician who has informed himself rather than trust the New York Times, which has turned a blind eye to the credentials of the critics and the substantial nature of the criticism for two decades.

Evidently Mbeki is retaining a firm grip on the helm and with the full support of his Cabinet is maintaining a broad approach which takes full responsibility for the welfare of his people.

He shows that responsibility – unlike the US government – by taking into account the full range of information available, including the now plain fact that there is reason for massive doubt that the NIAID and its lapdog the New York Times have endorsed the right paradigm for twenty years.

Meanwhile he has defended his Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang from scurrilous reports of her “behavior” ie drinking while in hospital a while back:

In its 12 August edition the “Sunday Times” dramatically presented on
 its front page a story about how Minister Tshabalala-Msimang allegedly
 behaved while receiving treatment in a hospital in Cape Town, a few
 years ago. Through her lawyers, the Minister has threatened to take 
legal action against the newspaper. Accordingly we cannot comment on
 this matter.

 However, the government Presidency has issued a statement to say that
 this newspaper report does not justify dismissing the Minister, as some
 have suggested.
Among other things, the statement said: “The Presidency
 notes that the latest allegations levelled against the Minister of
 Health appear to be consistent with attempts by some in the media and 
elsewhere, to demean the person of the Minister…

”The Presidency would like to reassure all South Africans of the 
integrity of the public health system as led by Minister Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang and the Cabinet collective.”


Here is the latest report on that allegation where the Times is refusing to hand over the documents it says it was relying on, and Manto says she is suing:

The minister must “explain on what basis” the documents should be returned, Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya said, after a deadline set by the minister for the return of the documents had passed.
Makhanya said the newspaper had written to the minister, saying the onus was on her to explain why documents and notes she was requesting should be returned.
He said as far as the Sunday Times was concerned there was no reason to give her anything because the story about her drinking was true.
“The minister needs to tell us what it is in the story that is garbage?” he said.
“The story that ran on Sunday is 200 percent accurate.

Sunday Times adamant about Manto
JOHANNESBURG – The Sunday Times refused on Tuesday to return documents detailing Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s alleged drinking in hospital.
The minister must “explain on what basis” the documents should be returned, Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya said, after a deadline set by the minister for the return of the documents had passed.
Makhanya said the newspaper had written to the minister, saying the onus was on her to explain why documents and notes she was requesting should be returned.
He said as far as the Sunday Times was concerned there was no reason to give her anything because the story about her drinking was true.
“The minister needs to tell us what it is in the story that is garbage?” he said.
“The story that ran on Sunday is 200 percent accurate.
“It is thoroughly, thoroughly researched. Everything is accurate.”
Makhanya said he was “not saying anything” about whether the paper was in possession of Tshabalala-Msimang’s medical records.
He said legal action remained just a “threat”.
In any case to be successful in court she would have to disprove the story, which Makhanya insisted was accurate.
A retraction was not under consideration, he said.
It would be “terrible” for media freedom if the paper had ceded to her demands.
After the deadline passed on Tuesday afternoon, “We’ll take it from there,” said Makhanya.
Tshabalala-Msimang said she would proceed with legal action after the newspaper failed to return her medical records.
“The newspaper has failed to comply with the demand to return these medical records.
“The minister has therefore directed her legal team to proceed with the litigation against the Sunday Times,” said the minister’s spokesman, Sibani Mngadi, in a statement on Tuesday afternoon. –Sapa
Manto set to sue
JOHANNESBURG – Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is proceeding with legal action against the Sunday Times, after the newspaper failed to return her medical records by a Tuesday afternoon deadline.
“The newspaper has failed to comply with the demand to return these medical records.
“The minister has therefore directed her legal team to proceed with the litigation against the Sunday Times,” said the minister’s spokesman, Sibani Mngadi, in a statement on Tuesday afternoon. –Sapa
Manto willing to go legal for documents
JOHANNESBURG – Legal action will be taken if the Sunday Times does not return medical documents belonging to the Health Minister, her spokesman said on Tuesday.
Sibani Mngadi said the Sunday Times had until about 5.30pm on Tuesday to return Health Minister Manto Tshabala-Msimang’s medical documents.
If this deadline was not adhered to, the minister would definitely seek court assistance to have her medical records returned to her.
“We are prepared for this,” he said.
Mngadi said the minister had sent both a faxed and hand-delivered copy of her demands to the Sunday Times on Monday afternoon.
He said the minister believed the Sunday Times was in “gross violation” of the National Health Act in obtaining her medical records.
Mngadi said he was “very much concerned” at the “arrogance” of Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya during interviews he had given on Monday.
Tshabalala-Msimang’s demands followed after the Sunday Times ran a story on August 12 about her alleged alcohol binges during a hospital stay two years ago.
In a statement issued on Monday the minister dismissed the newspaper story as “false, malicious and in contravention of the law”.
“The minister calls upon the Sunday Times to, within 24 hours, hand over to her all records concerning her hospitalisation, medical treatment and condition (including the notes containing such information as well as the comments of various “doctors” in respect of such hospitalisation, treatment and condition),” the ministry said.
The statement also called upon the Sunday Times to “retract malicious, untrue and injurious statements referred to in the report”.
Comment from the Sunday Times was not immediately available. – Sapa.
Manto snitch faces disciplinary action
JOHANNESBURG – The health professional who leaked Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s medical records to the Sunday Times will face disciplinary action, the Health Professionals Council of SA said on Tuesday.
“This is a flagrant violation of the long established ethical rule of the medical profession, namely, to preserve and maintain patient confidentiality,” the HPCSA said in a statement.
The council said they would not hesitate to take “the most stringent” disciplinary action against any health professional who allowed the Sunday Times to obtain the Minister’s records.
The HPCSA also urged the Sunday Times to return Tshabalala-Msimang’s records to her.
Earlier, the minister’s spokesman said legal action would be taken if the Sunday Times did not return medical documents belonging to her.
Sibani Mngadi said the Sunday Times had until about 5.30pm on Tuesday to return Health Minister Manto Tshabala-Msimang’s medical documents.
Mngadi said the minister had sent both a faxed and hand-delivered copy of her demands to the Sunday Times on Monday afternoon.
Tshabalala-Msimang’s demands followed after the Sunday Times ran a story on August 12 about her alleged alcohol binges during a hospital stay two years ago.
In a statement issued on Monday the minister dismissed the newspaper story as “false, malicious and in contravention of the law”.
“The minister calls upon the Sunday Times to, within 24 hours, hand over to her all records concerning her hospitalisation, medical treatment and condition (including the notes containing such information as well as the comments of various “doctors” in respect of such hospitalisation, treatment and condition),” the ministry said.
Comment from the Sunday Times was not immediately available. – Sapa.

Last updated
15/08/2007 11:33:51 As an observer from faraway Manhattan we have to say that in all these stories from Africa there is a certain naivete and simplicity in the comments and statements people make which remind us that we are dealing with a continent that has far to go before it catches up with Western levels of social camouflage.

Here is the complete Mbeki letter at the ANC:LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT



Who are our heroes and heroines?



On 8 August, I wrote to the then Deputy Minister of Health, Nozizwe
Madlala-Routledge, relieving her of her duties in government. In this 
letter I said: 
”This letter serves to inform you that, acting in terms of the 
provisions of clause 
93 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, I have decided
 to relieve you of your duties as Deputy Minister of Health with effect
 from today.



“All of us who serve our people through the national government took an
 oath or made a solemn affirmation to respect and uphold the
 Constitution. This same Constitution calls upon us to, among other
 things, work collectively to develop and implement national policies.

”I have, during the period you served as Deputy Minister of Defence,
 consistently drawn your attention to the concerns raised by your
 colleagues about your inability to work as part of a collective, as the
 Constitution enjoins us to.

For the same reason, I have also discussed
 this matter with you as Deputy Minister of Health.

”You traveled to Madrid despite the fact that I had declined your
 request to undertake this trip. It is clear to me that you have no 
intention to abide by the constitutional prescriptions that bind all of
us. For this reason I suggested to you that you should resign.

” It is clear that you do not accept my advice. This leaves me no choice 
but to relieve you of your duties.”



A hue and cry


Ordinarily, I would not make any further comment on this matter.
 However, some, both within our country and internationally, have raised
 an ill-founded and ill-intentioned hue and cry about the dismissal of Ms
Madlala-Routledge. As part of this, all manner of fabrications have been
 peddled that relate to a whole variety of issues that bear on the work
 both of the ANC and our government.



Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge also chose to convene a press conference to
give her the possibility to ‘tell her side of the story’, during which
she claimed that all she had ever done was to “speak truth to power”,
presumably to present herself to the media as part of the so-called
Fourth Estate, which is fond of using this phrase to define its social
role.



In her comments, among others, she chose to make various observations
about the functioning of the Ministry and Department of Health, the 
government in general, the meeting the Deputy President and I had with
her on 7 August, and the kind of leaders the December 2007 National
Conference of the ANC should elect.



With regard to this last issue, a journalist asked Ms Madlala-Routledge
why in the last two years she has expressed her seemingly dissenting
 views publicly, rather than within the structures of the ANC, which our
movement requires of its members. She responded more or less precisely 
in these terms: “The fax I sent to the President to say I am not 
resigning I sent from Luthuli House, (the ANC Headquarters building). 
Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Govan Mbeki, Archie Gumede…Lilian Ngoyi,
Dora Tamana, and the Freedom Charter taught us the values I uphold. The 
ANC taught us to speak out!…As we go towards December, I am going to
 be campaigning hard to get a leader or leaders (elected by the ANC
National Conference) I think will be brave to stand up for the truth,
for the values my organisation, the ANC, stands for…I am going to work
 very hard in my branch, in my district, my Province (KZN), and all over,
to make sure that we succeed to unite the ANC, that is very important -
to unite the ANC – and choose a leader who the country will support.”



Naturally, members of the ANC have asked what Ms Madlala-Routledge meant
 when she made these remarks. They have asked why she has suggested that
 the current leadership of the ANC has divided the ANC, and why she 
suggests it does not have the courage to stand up for the truth, why she
 suggests that our leadership has no regard for the values of our 
movement, and why she suggests that the leader of the ANC is not
 supported by our country.



Undoubtedly the ANC will deal with this matter as prescribed by its
 Constitution, its normal procedures, its conventions and traditions, and
 our current challenges.

Who’s in, who’s out?

 We have, in the past, dropped people who had served in government in
 ministerial positions. This has also happened at the level of Provincial
 Government.

In no instance have the members of the ANC thus affected
 ever decided that they should engage in a media and public campaign, as
 Ms Madlala-Routledge has chosen to do.

 And indeed, none of the similar interventions affecting other members of
the ANC serving in government, including local government, have aroused 
the media frenzy generated by the dropping of Ms Madlala-Routledge.



The strange and disturbing assertions and developments we have heard and
seen, since the dismissal of Ms Madlala-Routledge, strongly suggested
that we must make some comments in this regard, which explains the
 reason for this Letter. I began the Letter by citing my letter to Ms
Madlala-Routledge.

The question at issue is therefore very simple. As I said in my 8 August
 letter, the central matter I raised with the former Deputy Minister is 
the issue of the collective responsibility of everybody who serves in
 the National Executive.
I would never have raised this with Ms
 Madlala-Routledge when I spoke to her on 7 August and in the 8 August 
letter, maliciously, with no factual basis. 

I am certain that Ms Madlala-Routledge will recall the instances when I
 spoke to her while she served as Deputy Minister both at Defence and at
 Health, to assist her to understand and respect her obligation to honour 
the fact that she was part of a collective that has a responsibility to
 abide by the decisions of the ANC and the government.



In this regard, I must also say that, of course, government can detail 
the many instances when Ms Madlala-Routledge wilfully ignored or defied 
this obligation.



The Spanish trip



To justify her trip to Spain, Ms Madlala-Routledge, supported by some in
 the media, has argued that some Ministers and Deputy Ministers have
 travelled out of the country without receiving authorisation, written or
 otherwise. The fact of the matter is that Ms Madlala-Routledge has
 absolutely no way of knowing this.

In any case, the point at issue is
 that Ms Madlala-Routledge defied a written decision that she should not
 travel to Spain.

 If she was looking for a precedent to argue that she should not have 
been dismissed from the National Executive, she would have been better 
served if she provided even one example of a Minister or Deputy Minister
 who travelled even after permission to travel had been denied, as she
 did. Personally, I know of no other such incident since 1999.



Because the ANC has always sought to build rather than destroy, for many
years our leadership agreed to keep Ms Madlala-Routledge in government,
 determined further to develop her as a true cadre of our movement,
 committed to serve the people as a disciplined member of our movement.
 It is clear that in this specific case we failed.

 I refer to our leadership because like others who have decided to
 campaign on the basis of the concocted assertion about “centralisation
 of power in the Presidency”, Ms Madlala-Routledge may entertain the 
illusion that she stayed in government as long as she did on the basis 
of decisions taken by the President, solely and exclusively. 


If this is the case, she, and everybody else, will have to learn the
 basic lesson that the national democratic revolution cannot, and will
 not be advanced on the basis of fabrications.

 There is nothing exceptional about the Constitutional requirement for
 members of the National Executive to act as a collective. This applies
 even to the lowliest of community-based organisations. Defiance of this
 very elementary rule would expose any organised social formation to
 chaos and anarchy. This includes the ANC. If it were tolerated in
government, it would inevitably lead to a slide to the disastrous
 condition of a failed state.

Some in our country and others elsewhere in the world, including the
 media, have acclaimed Ms Madlala-Routledge as a great heroine, before
 and after her dismissal, on the basis that she seemed to demonstrate 
intellectual and personal “courage” by defying the obligation to speak 
and act as part of a collective. In this regard, in her 10 August press
conference, she made a point of emphasising her obligation to be
 accountable to the media.



Collective responsibility



With regard to all this, I must make the point absolutely clear, without
 equivocation or qualification, that while the ANC serves as government,
in any of the three spheres of government, freely elected by the people,
 it will ensure that its members respect the principle and practice of
 collective responsibility.



None of the members of the ANC deployed in government will be treated by
 our movement as heroes and heroines on the basis of “lone ranger”
 behaviour, so-called because of their defiance of agreed positions and
 procedures of our movement and government.



In the 95 years of our existence as a movement, no member of our
 organisation became a hero or heroine because of actions that would
 condemn our movement to the plague of chaos and anarchy. At the same 
time, throughout its history, to date, our movement has insisted on the 
need to respect the right of every member freely to express his or her
 view within our constitutional structures.



Indeed, during her press conference, even Ms Madlala-Routledge stated 
that when she has attended meetings of our National Executive Committee
 (NEC), she observed that members of the NEC, and other participants, 
enjoyed the freedom to speak their minds.

 Contrary to what some have suggested, Ms Madlala-Routledge, like other
 members of the National Executive, has never been denied the right to
 speak her mind both in the Cabinet Committee and the Cabinet meetings.


This also relates to instances when Deputy Ministers have differed with
 their Ministers. Any suggestion to the contrary would be, to speak 
plainly, a blatant lie.

 Similarly, we must underline and emphasise the point that government
 policies are government policies. There is no government policy that
 belongs to individual Ministries or Departments, or even the Presidency.


Our government is not made up of a federation or coalition of ministers,
or a Presidential autocracy.

As prescribed by our Constitution, and in terms of the practice we have 
entrenched since 1994, all government policies are approved by the 
Cabinet. This includes the legislation that the National Executive
 submits to the National Legislature. 
Accordingly, the President and the rest of the Cabinet take full
 responsibility even for some of the contested draft legislation 
currently being considered by our National Parliament.

In this context I must also emphasise that there is not even one
 important policy and programmatic initiative that our government has
 taken since 1994 that has not been based on decisions taken by the
 constitutional structures of the ANC.

During these years, to date, the
 people of South Africa have elected the ANC to serve as the ruling
 party. Members of the ANC deployed in government have consistently
worked in a manner that respects the popular mandate given to their
movement.



HIV, AIDS & super-heroines



In the determined effort to market Ms Madlala-Routledge as some
”super-heroine”, her admirers have attributed our government policy and
 programmes on HIV and AIDS to her. 
Thus the extraordinarily absurd claim has been made that her dismissal
 from the National Executive threatens the very survival of the
 government (and ANC) programme on HIV and AIDS.


In this regard, and as an example of what I am talking about, the
 British newspaper, “The Independent”, even felt entitled and obliged to
 tell a litany of blatant untruths to promote a deliberately negative 
agenda about the ANC and our government, which Ms Madlala-Routledge,
 consciously or unwittingly, has seemed very determined to advance.



Among other things, the British newspaper, “The Independent” wrote, (on
 10 August): 
”Thabo Mbeki’s stance on Aids has left South Africa with the world’s
 worst HIV epidemic. Yesterday, he silenced the woman fighting to end the
 suffering of millions… The fight against Aids in South Africa, the
 epicentre of the global pandemic, has been dealt a devastating blow.
President Thabo Mbeki stunned and outraged campaigners yesterday by 
sacking the country’s deputy health minister, the woman credited with
 ending a decade of Aids denialism at the heart of the South African
 political leadership…



”The sacked minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, is an outspoken critic
 of President Mbeki and his Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and 
the way they have handled the epidemic. She was the co-architect of an 
ambitious new five-year plan to accelerate the rollout of free,
life-saving Aids drugs, tripling the numbers on treatment by 2011. That
plan could now be in jeopardy…



“‘He (Mbeki) has once again shown his contempt for those seeking
scientific approaches to Aids,’ said Professor Nicoli Nattrass of the
University of Cape Town. 
’This is a dreadful error of judgement. It indicates that the President
still remains opposed to the science of HIV,’ the Treatment Action
Campaign (TAC), South Africa’s biggest Aids advocacy group, said
yesterday.



“‘It’s an absolute disgrace,” said Mike Waters, the opposition
 Democratic Alliance’s health spokesman. ‘The fact is for the first time
 we had a deputy minister with a clear direction in the fight against
 Aids. Both the President and the Minister are denialists, while the
 deputy minister has her feet stuck in reality.'”



In an article in “The Independent”, Ms Madlala-Routledge said: “I can’t
 say what reason the President had for dismissing me. But I know that the
 Health Minister, back in the driving seat, wanted to reassert her ideas.
We have made progress recently, and I would be saddened and disappointed 
if we were now to be taken back to a time when people were confused
 about Aids treatment.



“I am certain now, that if our Health Minister goes back to talking
 about garlic and beetroot, she will face only ridicule. I am not, I must
 stress, attacking the traditional African medicines that she is keen to 
champion. They have a place in health care.

” But we are dealing with a modern disease. And as with any modern
 disease, we have to subject whatever we propose as a cure, to the most
 rigorous scientific testing…

It is also important for us to hear Mr
 Mbeki’s voice, encouraging people, leading, and showing them that
 HIV/Aids, with treatment, can be managed.”



South Africa, HIV & AIDS



The principal journalist responsible for the many shameless lies told in
”The Independent” seems to be one Katherine Butler, the newspaper’s
 Foreign Editor. It is perfectly obvious that she did not even bother to
 study our government’s 2000-2005 and 2007-2011 HIV/AIDS/STD Strategic
Plans, (NSPs), and their implementation.



Had she, and her Editor, done so, they would, for instance, have found
 this comment (in the 2007-2011 Plan), which she would have been free to
challenge with facts, 
that:



“In 1992, the National AIDS Coordinating Committee (NACOSA) – (led by 
the ANC) -was launched with a mandate to develop a national strategy on
 HIV and AIDS. Cabinet endorsed this strategy in 1994… Much was done to
 implement the recommendations of the NACOSA Plan review. These include
 the appointment of provincial AIDS coordinators, the establishment of
 the Inter-Ministerial Committee on AIDS, launch of Partnerships against
 AIDS by the Deputy President in 1998, development of the Department of
Education HIV and AIDS policy for learners and educators, development of
 other national policies, including the Syndromic management of STIs, the
 establishment of the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) in
1998, the establishment of SANAC, the establishment of the national 
interdepartmental committee on HIV and AIDS, as well as the development
 of a Strategic Framework for a South African AIDS Youth Programme.”



The 2000-2005 Plan said: “The development of this strategic plan was 
initiated by the Minister of Health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang in July
 1999 in response to President, Mr Thabo Mbeki’s, challenge to all
 sectors of society to become actively involved in initiatives designed 
to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It began with a meeting in July 1999
 to review the current HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care efforts
 in South Africa.



“The meeting was attended by representatives of faith-based
 organisations, people living with HIV infection and AIDS, human rights
 organisations, academic institutions, the civil military alliance, the
 Salvation Army, the media, organised labour, organised sports, organised
 business, insurance companies, women’s organisations, youth
 organisations, international donor organisations, health professionals
 and health consulting organisations, political parties, and relevant 
government departments.



“After priority areas for future efforts were discussed and agreed upon,
 a committee was charged with developing a five-year HIV/AIDS and STD
 Strategic Plan. Task teams were established to review current goals and
 objectives for the designated priority areas. The priority areas are
 prevention; treatment, care and support; legal and human rights; and
 monitoring, research and evaluation.



“In addition, the Minister of Health held bilateral meetings with
 several important sectors including traditional leaders, faith-based
 organisations and business to obtain their views and to discuss ways to
 facilitate their active participation.”



Further, the 2007-2011 Plan says: “The HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan
 for South Africa (NSP), 2007-2011, flows from the National Strategic
plan of 2000-2005, the Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV and AIDS
 Care, Management, and Treatment
(CCMT) as well as other HIV and AIDS strategic frameworks developed for
 government and sectors of civil society in the past five years. It
 represents the country’s multi-sectoral response to the challenge with 
(sic) HIV infection and the wide-ranging impacts (sic) of AIDS.”



Despite all the foregoing, and strangely, including the financial
 resources our government and parliament have provided to give substance 
to our NSPs, all of which stand up to any and all international
 comparisons, one of the journalists at the Madlala-Routledge press
conference, who, we must assume, is not familiar with any of the history
 we have indicated, said our country is faced with an ‘international PR
 crisis with regard to HIV and AIDS!’



Vavi, Waters & Madlala-Routledge



The fact of the matter is that personally, Ms Madlala-Routledge had very
little to do with both the NSPs we have mentioned, regardless of the 
fabrications that she and her admirers choose to manufacture. These
driven admirers include the General Secretary of COSATU, Zwelinzima
Vavi, who, not surprisingly, joined the chorus of the praise-singers of
 Ms Madlala-Routledge, boldly saying (according to the SABC), with
 absolute contempt for the facts, but absolute loyalty to a particular
 agenda: “I think the firing of that minister – who everybody in the 
country accepted was one of the most efficient, hardworking ministers we
 have in the Cabinet – sends a message…that we know of so much dead
wood that remains untouchable in government as ministers, many of them 
dying on duty…says basically, if you’re working hard and are an
independent thinker, you will get the chop.”



(As Head of State and Government, I know of no Minister or Deputy
Minister, with which echelon of South Africans I interact virtually
 everyday, who is not an independent thinker and a hard worker, who
 behaves like a sheep and a mindless sycophant. Given my constitutional
 and political responsibilities, defined by our Constitution and
 statutes, I am quite ready to listen to any contrary view in this
regard, regardless of its origin. On the various occasions I have met Vavi formally and informally, he has never raised this issue. Neither
 has COSATU, a genuinely valued ally of the ANC, which Vavi has served as
General Secretary for some years, ever raised this issue in its numerous 
interactions with the ANC and government! 
Basing itself on its experience about Vavi’s many public and negative 
statements, which I assume he will continue to make, the ANC, a devoted
ally of COSATU, must surely come to the conclusion that its historic
ally, COSATU, has determined that it will principally communicate with
 us, the ANC, through public statements made by its General Secretary!)



The “Mail and Guardian” quoted Vavi as saying: “In the absence of any
 other convincing explanation, we then conclude that she
 (Madlala-Routledge) was fired because of her views on HIV/Aids, which
 were not shared by the president and Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.
 It is very sad because this means the sheep mentality of following the
leader will persist. It will deepen the culture of sycophancy among
 government ministers and officials.

”But all we can do is pay tribute to her. Thanks to her, government now
 has a five-year comprehensive HIV/Aids plan. Thanks to her there is
unity between government and civil society and it is also thanks to her
that we no longer have the mixed messages, and the spirit of Aids
denialism is behind us.”


Again not surprisingly, the Democratic Alliance (DA) backed what Vavi
said. In a statement on 10 August headed “Madlala-Routledge fired for
speaking the truth” -speaking truth to power? – Mike Waters, DA
spokesperson on health said: “The far more likely explanation (for her
dismissal) is that (Ms Madlala-Routledge) was fired for speaking the
truth. The former Deputy Minister has been outspoken on the following
issues:

* Government’s performance with regard to HIV/Aids;
* The nature of government’s response to the HIV/Aids pandemic; and,
* The situation at Frere Hospital.”



The Endgame?



In its 12 August edition the “Sunday Times” dramatically presented on
its front page a story about how Minister Tshabalala-Msimang allegedly
behaved while receiving treatment in a hospital in Cape Town, a few
years ago. Through her lawyers, the Minister has threatened to take
legal action against the newspaper. Accordingly we cannot comment on
this matter.

However, the government Presidency has issued a statement to say that
this newspaper report does not justify dismissing the Minister, as some
have suggested.
Among other things, the statement said: “The Presidency
notes that the latest allegations levelled against the Minister of
Health appear to be consistent with attempts by some in the media and
elsewhere, to demean the person of the Minister…

”The Presidency would like to reassure all South Africans of the
integrity of the public health system as led by Minister Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang and the Cabinet collective.”



In the recent past the ANC, the government and our people as a whole
have had to contend with elaborate and sophisticated disinformation
campaigns intended to destabilise the ANC, the government, our democracy
and country, not disconnected from similar anti-ANC campaigns during the
apartheid years.
The more recent campaigns presented themselves through
the “hoax e-mail” and “browse report” incidents.

Time will tell what happened that gave the “Sunday Times” the right to
tell the story it told, whether right or wrong, about what might have
happened in Minister Tshabalala-Msimang’s “private space” in hospital.
All of us, up to now, assumed that we had a Constitutional and common
sense entitlement to treat this “hospital space” 
as being subject to the “privacy and dignity” human right and privilege
to which all our citizens, including Ministers, are Constitutionally
entitled.



Whatever the endgame in this regard, we, and the overwhelming majority
of our people, will have been painfully alerted to the fact that not
 everybody in our country and abroad, is happy that the ANC enjoys the
 confidence of the masses of our people. 
Equally, others are unhappy that, contrary to the predictions of the 
doomsayers about African countries, we have managed the transition from
 white minority rule to non-racial, democratic rule as well as we have,
thus making the statement in practice that cannot be disproved with
facts, that categorically, there exists no genetic fault that condemns 
Africa and Africans forever to be defined as a failed continent and
 civilisation.


Is it the case that to win the approval of the loudest voices in the
world of the contemporary global communication system we must behave in
a manner that is consistent with their stereotypes? Who will determine
 who our heroes and heroines will be?

 – Thabo Mbeki


———————————————————-


This is from the issue of ANC Today available from the ANC web site at:
http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/anctoday/2007/at32.htm

__,_._,___

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