Monday, August 13, 2007

South Africa's Health Minister Accused of Drinking in Hospital

Last week's media storm in South Africa over the firing of deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge shows no signs of letting up. President Thabo Mbeki took the unusual step of releasing his letter of dismissal to the media over the weekend. In it, he declared that Madlala-Routledge was let go because of her "inability to work as part of a collective, as the constitution enjoins us to."

Mbeki was responding to continuing outrage from the government's coalition partners and others that Madlala-Routledge, widely regarded as honest and competent, had been fired instead of her former boss, the often erratic Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

But the President's move was quickly overshadowed by an explosive report in The Sunday Times of South Africa, accusing Tshabalala-Msimang of a "booze binge" while in the hospital two years ago for shoulder surgery.

Tshabalala-Msimang has in the past denied having an alcohol problem and press reports suggested she is considering suing The Sunday Times over the allegations. The newspaper's editors say they stand behind their story, which was based on a five-month investigation as well as leaked hospital records.

Read President Mbeki's letter to Madlala-Routledge on the official South African government site.

For related blog entries on Madlala-Routledge, click here.

No comments: