South African politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Saturday AIDS had killed his daughter, his second child to die from the disease this year, and slammed the government’s handling of the pandemic.
South African politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Saturday AIDS had killed his daughter, his second child to die from the disease this year, and slammed the government’s handling of the pandemic.Buthelezi, head of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), is one of the few high profile figures to talk candidly about the disease that affects 10 percent of the population.”Tragically, Mandisi’s untimely death should have been averted, for she also succumbed to the disease that is unmercifully mowing down many of our people,” he said at his daughter’s funeral in Mahlabathini in KwaZulu-Natal province.”As you know this is the second child that I have lost this year to this dreadful disease, the pandemic of AIDS. When will our nation and government comprehend that we have no greater calling and mission than to deal with this terrible emergency?”Buthelezi’s son died of AIDS complications in April at the age of 53. His daughter was 48.South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world – one in nine of the population. But much stigma still surrounds the illness, and political leaders have come under fire for failing to tackle the disease head on.Some of the sharpest criticism has been directed at President Thabo Mbeki, whose government is accused of dragging its feet over the distribution of AIDS drugs.Mbeki has said he does not know anyone who has died of AIDS, and at one time questioned the link between the illness and HIV, the virus that causes it.Buthelezi was left out of Mbeki’s cabinet after the April general elections, drawing a line under an uneasy 10-year relationship between the IFP and the ANC in national government. (Source: Reuters, August 2004)