JIMMY CARTER ANGERS ANC
Business Day (South Africa) 10 March 2002
The African National Congress has reacted angrily to former United States
president Jimmy Carter's statements on how President Thabo Mbeki should
respond to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.
"We find it alarming that president Carter is willing to treat our people as
guinea pigs, in the interest of pharmaceutical companies, which he would not
do in his own country," the ANC said in media statement in Johannesburg.
"We do not understand why US citizens urge this drug upon us when the health
authorities in their own country do not allow its use for
"One of the reasons for this is that these authorities say that there is
insufficient data about issues of the safety of the drug.
Carter, the former US president, urged Mbeki to learn lessons from poorer
African countries that have been much more effective in fighting AIDS.
"There are a lot of other countries that have much less wealth per capita
and in total, and practically no business infrastructure to help them, that
have done superb jobs with minimal expenditure emphasising the prevention of
AIDS," he said. Senegal and Uganda were two examples of this.
The former US president is on a tour to several African countries with Bill
Gates senior, co-chair of the Gates Foundation.
He made the comments after he met Mbeki and Health Minister Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang in Cape Town on Friday.
And on Saturday, the ANC responded: "We are therefore very surprised at the
public comments made by president Carter after this meeting.
"We believe that honesty should characterise the conduct of public affairs.
The comments he and others made after the meeting with President Mbeki
indicate the true purpose of his visit to our country."
The ruling party said Carter's visit was arranged without the knowledge of
The organisation went on to say it would like to assure Carter that the
government was firmly committed to meeting the health needs of the people of
"For this, we do not need the interference and contemptuous attitude of
president Carter or anybody else. As South Africans, we have the
possibility to find solutions to our problems, as the people of the US
"We are not arrogant to presume that we know what the US should do to
respond to its many domestic challenges. Nobody from elsewhere in the world
should presume they have a superior right to tell us what to do with our own
The government, and Mbeki in particular, has come under severe criticism for
not allowing a roll out of the anti-retroviral drug - nevirapine - beyond
pilot sites in the country.