South African president brings race into AIDS arguments
October 28 2004 12:00 AM ET
South African president Thabo Mbeki last week brought race issues into discussions of the nation's AIDS pandemic, lashing out at white people who, he says, believe HIV is linked to "promiscuous and predatory" behavior of black Africans, The Guardian reports. Mbeki, when asked about his silence on AIDS issues, lashed out at opposition parliament member Ryan Coetzee, saying he held racial stereotypes of black people and wrongly blamed their behavior as one of the reasons the nation has about 5 million HIV-positive residents. "I will not keep quiet while others whose minds have been corrupted by the disease of racism accuse us, the black people of South Africa, Africa, and the world, as being, by virtue of our Africanness and skin color, lazy, liars, foul-smelling, diseased, corrupt, violent, amoral, sexually depraved, animalistic, savage, and rapist," Mbeki said. He also accused white people of seeing blacks as "rampant sexual beasts, unable to control our urges, unable to keep our legs crossed, unable to keep it in our pants."
The opposition Democratic Alliance, of which Coetzee is a member, called Mbeki's remarks "false" and a "disgrace." Coetzee, in an open letter to Mbeki released on Monday, says Mbeki is "unable to face the facts" about the country's AIDS epidemic. Mbeki has previously questioned the connection between HIV and AIDS and has called antiretroviral drugs "poisonous." His government also has been criticized for dragging its feet in establishing treatment programs to prevent mother-to-child transmissions of the virus and to assist those who've developed AIDS-related complications