Earlier in the week, Thabo Mbeki – in New York attending the UN General Assembly meeting – granted an interview to the Washington Post, wherein, he observed:
“Personally, I don’t know anybody who has died of AIDS.” Asked whether he knows anyone with HIV, he added quietly, “I really, honestly don’t.”
Xolani Kunene of Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) a South African organisation lobbying the government for affordable treatment for HIV/AIDS, told BBC News Online:
“As usual it looks like Mr Mbeki is not living in the real South Africa… As president, Mr Mbeki is the first citizen of South Africa, so he should be aware of this crisis. We estimate that 600 South Africans are dying of AIDS-related illness every day.”
“If it is true that the president knows no-one who has died of AIDS then he needs to come and meet some real South Africans, read the newspapers, visit sufferers and campaign groups like our own – we can assist him to see the problem,” he added.
In my opinion, Mbeki would be well-advised to take TAC up on it’s offer. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.