By Carol Paton

Sunday Times (South Africa) 10 March 2002

The ANC's National Executive Committee is to debate AIDS next week, including issues of science such as whether the virus can be scientifically isolated and whether antiretroviral drugs are effective in its treatment.

The latest convert to the dissident school of thought on AIDS, charismatic leader Peter Mokaba, is preparing a paper for the meeting that contests the orthodox view that HIV causes AIDS and that life can be prolonged with antiretroviral therapy.

However, other ANC sources said that although "everybody would be free to raise whatever they wanted" in the NEC's "comprehensive discussion", the main objective was to discuss AIDS and what to do about it.

A member of the committee, who supports the orthodox view, said that if the dissidents suggest that "no action can be taken until all the scientific questions are resolved, there will be a fight".

But as long as a decision was taken to continue along the path that government had chosen - based on the assumption that HIV causes AIDS - there would be room for agreement, he said.