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Zille slams ‘Aids Gestapo’

Cape Town-111125-Western Cape Premier Helen Zille announced the launch of the provincial government's 16 Days of Activism campaign,at a press conference at the Provincial legislature today.Photo Melinda Stuurman

Cape Town-111125-Western Cape Premier Helen Zille announced the launch of the provincial government's 16 Days of Activism campaign,at a press conference at the Provincial legislature today.Photo Melinda Stuurman

Published Dec 5, 2011


DA leader Helen Zille has accused HIV/Aids activists of acting like an “Aids Gestapo”, a report has said.

According to the Cape Times, Zille wrote in her weekly newsletter on Sunday that human rights activists were selective in the rights they chose to promote and, while claiming to own the moral high ground, “they hunt in a vicious pack” to prevent anyone questioning their assumptions.

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Zille said “slacktivists” was too gentle a term for such activists. Instead, she called them “Aids Gestapo”, the report said.

Asked who specifically the “Aids Gestapo” was, Zille reportedly said: “I am not going to personalise it by naming names. If I do that, it will merely end up as a wrangle and the points I am making will get lost.”

Recently Zille has come under fire for her “Get Tested to Win” campaign offering cash prizes to people who take an HIV/Aids test.

She has defended the draw, saying it will ultimately help reduce the number of new infections in the province.

She said Francois Venter, deputy executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute and outgoing president of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, had “succumbed” to the logic of the “Aids Gestapo”.

Venter has criticised Zille for calling for murder charges against those who knowingly infect their partners with HIV, although he supports her “lucky draw” campaign.

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“If you can’t beat them, join them,” Zille wrote in her newsletter. “(Venter) seems to be finding the ultimate cop-out to avoid the debate on behaviour change and reinforcing denialism.”

Zille quoted Nelson Mandela, who said at a 1992 meeting, before he became president that the ANC would face the Aids issue uncompromisingly.

She said she could find no other example where Mandela had explicitly addressed the issue.

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“During his presidency he seems to have paid scant attention to Aids. I have often wondered whether the Aids Gestapo managed to silence him, too.”

In her newsletter, Zille wrote about a scenario in which a woman in a committed relationship became infected with HIV because her partner chose to remain silent about his status.

“If she lays a charge or sues for the violation of her physical integrity, she will be accused of ‘stigmatising HIV’, ‘driving the pandemic underground’ and ‘violating’ her partner’s ‘right to privacy’. In short, unless she meekly accepts her situation, she is a villain.

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“This is a consequence of the ‘progressive’ line on HIV/Aids, touted by people who actually have much in common with religious fanatics or fascists. In their blinkered focus on a free-floating single issue, they lose sight of the broader public good.”

Zille cited a pending high court case in which a top Durban businessman was being sued for R2.56 million by a Cape Town woman who alleged he infected her with genital herpes.

It was publicly acceptable for only a white woman to single out a white man for infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease, Zille wrote. “But, not vice versa, according to the Aids Gestapo. Who actually is being racist?”

According to the Cape Times, TAC treasurer Nathan Geffen said on Sunday: “I expect better than this kind of petulant behaviour from Ms Zille.”

Zackie Achmat, TAC founder and now co-director of not for profit trust Ndifuna Ukwazi, was quoted as saying: “It is deeply regrettable that Premier Helen Zille is copying the worst of Thabo Mbeki in trying to play the leader of all portfolios in her party.

“And that like Thabo Mbeki, the premier finds it anathema that any human being should stand up to her or that civil society should stand up to her. She calls TAC the Aids Gestapo hunting in a vicious pack – that is no different from Julius Malema. And more important, like Thabo Mbeki projecting racialism on to everyone else by being racist himself, (Zille) projects Gestapo on to everyone while displaying tendencies of authoritarianism herself.” - IOL

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