The former deputy to South African health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang says the minister deliberately undercut her efforts to tackle chronic illness in the AIDS-ravaged country.
In a speech in late September, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge said Tshabalala-Msimang, dubbed 'Dr. Beetroot' for her controversial advocacy of certain foods as frontline treatments for HIV, sabotaged her work in the department. 'The minister did make it very difficult for me to perform in those areas, and in particular I mention the fact that the department was stopped, was not allowed to interact with me directly,' Madlala-Routledge added.
Madlala-Routledge was praised by activists for embracing a conventional approach to fighting the AIDS epidemic. She was fired by President Thabo Mbeki in August for alleged insubordination after failing to seek permission for a foreign trip. The dismissal sparked a public outcry and was widely regarded as a move to bolster Tshabalala-Msimang, an Mbeki ally who has come under pressure from political opponents since returning to her job after liver transplant surgery in March.
Each day approximately 1,000 South Africans die of AIDS complications and 1,500 become infected with HIV. (Reuters Health)