Friday, August 10, 2007

Madlala-Routledge Tells Why She Was Sacked

South Africa's popular and now former deputy health minister told a press conference in Cape Town today that she was sacked because she visited a maternity hospital and publicly declared that deplorable conditions there constituted a "national emergency."

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge also explained that she thought she had Presidential permission to attend a meeting about AIDS vaccines in Madrid when she left, only to discover when she arrived in Spain that it had been revoked. She then returned to South Africa without attending a single session.

Both issues came up when she was called to President Thabo Mbeki's office earlier this week and asked to resign.
Madlala-Routledge refused, so Mbeki fired her.

Madlala-Routledge had won plaudits both in South Africa and internationally for her open and honest discussions about AIDS in that country and the need to bring treatment to a greater proportion of the population. Her boss, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, by contrast, had famously promoted ineffective remedies like beetroot and garlic for the treatment of AIDS.

It's not the first time that a politician has gotten rid of a more popular deputy. But that doesn't explain why a top doctor at the maternity hospital in question, who wrote a letter to the President supporting Madlala-Routledge's call for reform at the hospital, is also reportedly facing disciplinary hearings for her views. Still no word yet on whether Dr. Nomonde Xundu, chief director of HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Sexually Transmitted Infections at the Ministry of Health, has been able to renegotiate her "resignation" either.

For related entries on Madlala-Routledge, click here.

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