S Africa fires deputy health minister10th August 2007
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki has fired his deputy health minister, in a move that has drawn criticism from AIDS activists and opposition politicians.
Deputy minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge was dismissed after she attended an AIDS conference in Spain, apparently without first getting the president's approval. The trip included expenses for her consultant son, and cost the taxpayer US$22,850 (£11,400).
Opposition parties, who have been strongly critical in the past of expenses-paid trips taken by government ministers, approved of this one, however.
The HIV group Treatment Action Campaign called the decision to dismiss her a 'dreadful error of judgement' that would be harmful to public health in the country.
Madlala-Routledge's boss, the controversial Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, has previously urged those living with HIV to eat beetroot and garlic.
Meanwhile, activists say the government isn't providing enough antiretroviral drugs to the country's 5.5 million people living with HIV.
TAC said the departure of Madlala-Routledge was a blow to South Africa's fight against HIV/AIDS, and indicated that the president remained opposed to responding appropriately to the problem based on current scientific evidence.
The leader of the Independent Democrats, Patricial De Lille, said a 'dark cloud' hung over South Africa after the sacking.
The Democratic Alliance agreed, saying that in Madlala-Routledge, South Africa had for the first time a deputy minister with a clear diretion in the fight against AIDS.
Party health spokesman Mike Waters accused President Mbeki of being a bully.
Madlala-Routledge adopted a more open approach to the HIV/AIDS crisis than either of her bosses, and publicly took a blood test to check her own HIV status.
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Title: S Africa fires deputy health minister
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 3697
Date Added: 10th Aug 2007