Media release

Letter to The Citizen by CEO of GCIS: Request for correction: ANC "confused" over Mbeki Aids debate

16 October 2000

16 October 2000

To: The Editor, The Citizen

This is a request for a correction in the article "by Jameson Maluleke with SAPA" on the debate around the science of HIV/AIDS in The Citizen of 16 October 2000 (p3): "ANC "Confused" over Mbeki AIDS Debate".

The article quotes ANC spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota denying that the President or the ANC National Executive Committee had issued a statement that President Thabo Mbeki had withdrawn from the scientific debate.

Further, the authors claim that I "confirmed Mbeki’s statement"; meaning by implication that I was saying that such a statement had been issued. I wish to put it on record that I never said so.

In the first instance, it is not my responsibility to comment on statements made or not made by the African National Congress.

Secondly, in response to a question from Mr Maluleke on the government’s approach to this issue, I referred him to the statement made by the President in his reply to questions in Parliament on 20 September that the government’s approach to the pandemic is premised on the thesis of a causal link between HIV and AIDS, as well as the current government awareness campaign based on the ABC message.

It would be unfair to cast any aspersions on the intentions of the authors; or to presume confusion in the cutting and pasting of information The Citizen used from the two sources of the article (Jameson Maluleke and SAPA).

But it would appear that the authors (or sub-editors) conflated my request to Jameson Maluleke to refer to the parliamentary record in Hansard, and the denial by Nomfanelo Kota that the ANC or the President had issued a statement on the President’s involvement in the debate on the science of HIV/AIDS.

It is sadly in the nature of current South African journalism on this issue that such "confusion" is then attributed to government or other officials.

Smuts Ngonyama competently clarifies the matter with regard to such "confusion", in the Business Day article of 16 October. Among other things, Ngonyama says:

"It is only a question of scaling down on the issue and not backing off. The President will still be involved in any public debate"

Lest one is again misinterpreted, one should let the matter rest at this juncture.

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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