SOUTH AFRICA'S RULING ANC BACKS MBEKI'S CRITICISED AIDS STANCE
AFP 4 October 2000
Johannesburg -- South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) has backed President
Thabo Mbeki's controversial stance on AIDS, in which he asserts that the
disease may have causes apart from a single virus.
The party issued a statement late Tuesday in a show of solidarity, ahead of
upcoming local government elections and after some party members and the
ANC's political partners joined criticism of Mbeki's position.
Mbeki has flouted conventional scientific opinion that HIV is the cause of
the AIDS and sided with "dissident" scientists who believe it might also be
caused by problems such as poverty and malnutrition, particularly affecting
Tuesday's statement, from the party's national executive committee (NEC),
said the ANC "lends its full support" to the government's backing of
further scientific inquiry into AIDS.
"We should refuse to surrender to populism, dogma and sales pitches of some
pharmaceutical companies and their agents," it added.
He has also stated that a virus, such as HIV, cannot cause a syndrome, such
as the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), and reportedly suggested
that pharmaceutical companies were pushing this notion so that governments
buy their anti-AIDS drugs.
Controversy around Mbeki's stance was the result of a "massive propaganda
onslaught against the ANC, its president and its government," the NEC said.
Pressure has mounted on Mbeki to accept that the Human Immuno-Deficiency
Virus (HIV) is the cause of AIDS, including from the ANC's alliance
partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and South African
Critics have said that Mbeki's stance on AIDS is confusing South Africa,
where 4.2 million people out of a population of some 43 million were
infected by the virus at the end last year, according to government
Mbeki has stressed that his government's programme on HIV/AIDS was based on
the "thesis" that HIV causes AIDS.
However, it was absurd to suggest that HIV was the only cause of AIDS, the
head of the ANC's presidential office Smuts Ngonyama said in the Business
Day daily Wednesday.
Ngonyama wrote that AIDS as a "syndrome includes a collection of diseases",
such as tuberculosis, some pneumonias and cancers, diarrhoea, herpes and
"It is therefore absurd ... to suggest that all these diseases can be
caused by a single, common virus, HIV," he said.