The anguish of Zweli Mkhize
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.