By Dave Rasnick

Sunday Independent (South Africa) 1 April 2002

Dear Editor,

Malegapuru William Makgoba correctly says that, "In order for any government to make a policy decision it is duty bound to seek the expertise of the professionals for their evidence based on information so that they can make informed decisions in the best interests of public." Mbeki's government has done exactly that by setting up the AIDS Advisory Panel, of which both Makgoba and I are members. Makgoba has had ample opportunity to use the venue of the AIDS Panel to provide the government with the evidence that he claims he has. He and his mainstream colleagues have refused to do so. He says that, "Whenever [the government] have been given this kind of information [his information] they have simply refused it." It is unfair to accuse the government of refusing something that it has not been offered.

Makgoba says that, "These arguments [the dissident view] have been rehashed ad nauseum". That is a plain lie. I and the other dissidents have repeatedly asked Makgoba and the other mainstream members of the panel to show us the evidence that justifies his claim that, "Wherever [the dissident arguments] have been rejected there has been successful control of the HIV epidemic and wherever they have become part of a debate there has only been confusion and denial and the continuing spread of the epidemic in these countries." Makgoba and his mainstream colleagues have had almost two years to present their evidence but to date have not even tried.

Makgoba says that, "When the government is provided with answers - the best scientific opinion [in] the world that is available - they simply refuse and this behaviour is the sine qua non characteristic of a refusenik or denialist." I do not recall Makgoba providing the government with "the best scientific opinion [in] the world that is available". About the only place I can find Makgoba's "best scientific opinion" is in the newspapers and Durban Declarations where he and his colleagues attempt to set scientific truth by counting heads. It doesn't matter how many people sign Durban Declarations and Lancet articles, they cannot turn a falsehood into truth.

As president of the Medical Research Council, Makgoba is duty-bound to conduct the 10 experiments and studies recommended in the interim report of the President's AIDS Advisory Panel of a year ago. Yet Makgoba has blocked and stonewalled each of those experiments and studies. Not one is underway and Makgoba shares a major portion of the responsibility for the inaction. Therefore, his refusal to provide evidence to support the mainstream view that AIDS is contagious and caused by HIV and his refusal to carry out the 10 experiments and studies authorized by the president qualifies Makgoba as a "refusenik" and "denialist" par excellence.

Makgoba's own actions (rather lack of action) demonstrate that his nausea is not due to rehashing arguments but is more likely caused by the fear of having to engage in argument and showing his evidence.

David Rasnick, PhD
Member of Mbeki's AIDS Advisory Panel