Mbeki has no time for Aids test 'trivia'

By Time of article published Apr 20, 2000

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President Thabo Mbeki had more important things to worry about than publicly testing for HIV/Aids, presidential aide Parks Mankahlana said on Thursday.

"The president is not prepared to engage in trivia; he has got more important things to worry about than testing for HIV/Aids.

"Those who want to go and test for HIV/Aids must do so," he said.

Mankahlana was responding to a challenge from Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille, who on Wednesday in the national assembly urged political leaders to test for HIV/Aids and disclose the results.

Political leaders should set an example by showing their followers that it was better to know one's Aids status than live in ignorance and possibly infect people around them.

"I therefore challenge all political leaders in this parliament President Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, Tony Leon, Dr Buthelezi, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and all others - to go for an Aids test publicly," she said in a special debate on HIV/Aids

PAC president Stanley Mogoba said he would publicly go for an Aids test, and also urged other political leaders to do the same.

Mogoba said he believed that not only public representatives, but everyone else should be tested.

"We're all very vulnerable."

Mogoba said he had previously been tested. Asked whether he was prepared to disclose the results he said: "It was negative, but I suppose I should wait to be tested publicly before I disclose."

Also on Wednesday, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi stood up in the House and announced that if Mogoba went for a test, he would, too.

It was not immediately clear whether Buthelezi would agree to a public test in the light of Mogoba's statement on Thursday.

A spokesperson for Democratic Party leader Tony Leon said Leon had been tested as a matter of routine when he had major surgery 18 months ago, and had reported negative.

Leon believed one would have to consider whether a challenge such as De Lille's was serious, or a throwaway line.

In his case, however, the issue fell away because nothing had changed in his situation since the surgery.

Earlier this week, the Eastern Cape's acting chief director of district health services, Joyce Matebese, told parliament's health portfolio committee that politicians could help fight the Aids pandemic by going public on their own status. - Sapa

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