Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Leading from the front, finally

WYCLIFFE MUGA writes: Attending the opening plenary session of this conference, I listened to the South African Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor MP, talk about on-going efforts by her ministry to work ever more closely with the South African biomedical research establishment, and to find more money to support their work.

The speech was impressive as much for its content as for its polished and informed delivery. (Online copy can be found here - http://www.dst.gov.za/index.php/media-room/latest-news/1147-investment-in-research-and-development-for-hiv-prevention-remains-critical)

How times change.

Seems like just the other day when another polished and very impressive South African politician – and like Ms Pandor,  one who had spent many years in exile during the apartheid era – filled us all with horror with his casual dismissal of the scientific consensus on AIDS.

I speak, of course of former South African President, Thabo Mbeki.

How this shrewd and able man ever allowed himself to be the intellectual captive of outer-fringe AIDS-denialist groups, will long mystify me.

South Africa has always been the clear and undisputed leader in all technological and biomedical research in sub-Saharan Africa. It was clear to many of us all along that until the day came when South African resources and expertise – the very things which Ms Pandor was pledging to dedicate even more of in the fight against AIDS – came into the arena, Africa had no chance of winning that war.

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