The an­guish of Zweli Mkhize

The Witness - Wheels - - OPINION - • John Kane-Berman is a pol­icy fel­low at the South African In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions, a think-tank pro­mot­ing po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic free­dom.

Com­mit­tee caused him to “re­treat”.

Mkhize, who served as an MEC for health for 11 years, wants Mbeki now to apol­o­gise for “lead­ing the coun­try astray”. Maybe he should. But a sim­ple apol­ogy by Mbeki would then let the ANC it­self off the hook too eas­ily.

Mkhize ad­mits to re­grets that he him­self de­fended Mbeki.

The fact that Man­dela, of all peo­ple, al­lowed him­self to be si­lenced af­ter hav­ing ear­lier taken a lead in the bat­tle against HIV/Aids does that tow­er­ing fig­ure no credit ei­ther.

Mbeki was not a dic­ta­tor. When the ANC wanted to get rid of him in 2007, it did.

The fact that his party did not call him to ac­count on HIV/Aids makes it com­plicit in all the lives that were lost and fam­i­lies de­stroyed.

Mkhize says that Mbeki’s re­open­ing of the HIV/Aids is­sue “has forced us again to walk the sad jour­ney we would have pre­ferred to leave to re­searchers and his­to­ri­ans”.

For all those who died, and for those they left be­hind, it is in­deed a sad jour­ney. But for all the politi­cians who were com­plicit in Mbeki’s be­hav­iour, it is a shame­ful one.

Ac­cord­ing to some es­ti­mates, prob­a­bly con­ser­va­tive, as many as 330 000 Aids deaths might have been averted had an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment been made avail­able sooner.

Part of the walk to which Mkhize refers should be to see what lessons can be learnt for the fu­ture.

Although dif­fer­ent from the in­com­pre­hen­si­ble wicked­ness of the HIV/Aids tragedy to which the ANC was party, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s be­hav­iour is like­wise some­thing to which his party is now ac­ces­sory.

In its de­sire to pro­tect him from charges of fraud, cor­rup­tion, and rack­e­teer­ing, the ANC used its par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity to abol­ish the Scor­pi­ons.

It pro­tected him again when it tried un­law­fully to over­ride the find­ings of the pub­lic pro­tec­tor that he be held li­able for some of the ex­penses of his pri­vate res­i­dence at Nkandla.

It con­tin­ues to keep him in of­fice de­spite the find­ings of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court that he failed to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion.

There is a long his­tory of the rul­ing party’s fail­ure to hold its lead­er­ship ac­count­able.

It is now more than 15 years since Par­lia­ment ac­qui­esced in the Mbeki govern­ment’s thwart­ing of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Ac­counts (Scopa) when that body at­tempted to in­ves­ti­gate malfea­sance over the R44 bil­lion arms deal that was an­nounced in 1999.

Mkhize con­fesses to hav­ing de­fended the in­de­fen­si­ble un­der Mbeki.

As trea­surer gen­eral of the ANC, he is now well-placed to ask for how much longer he — and oth­ers — should con­tinue to de­fend the in­de­fen­si­ble un­der Zuma.

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