Wednesday, June 16, 2004

BBC - HIV/AIDS Touches Mugabe's Family

If even a rogue like Robert Mugabe can come to acknowledge the reality of this disease, why can't Thabo Mbeki?

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has become the latest African leader to reveal that members of his own family have been affected by HIV/Aids.
Without naming anyone, he told the country's first conference on Aids that sufferers included "the extended family of... the president himself".


The government denies accusations it has lacked the political will to deal effectively with the Aids crisis, first reported in the country 18 years ago.
The government estimates some 5,000 patients now have access to anti-retroviral drugs.
"I wish to assure this conference that improving access to treatment is one of the priorities of government," President Mugabe told delegates in a speech .
"There is no doubt that HIV and Aids is one of the greatest challenges facing our nation.
"However, it is not an insurmountable challenge. We can and we should rise above this challenge, and win the fight."


Referring to his own family, Mr Mugabe did not specify which members had been affected by the virus.
He added that no group was immune to risk, including "businessmen, members of parliament, even teachers and lecturers, alas, even ministers".
Earlier this year, the outgoing president of Malawi, Bakili Muluzi, said his brother had died because of Aids.
In May, the leader of South Africa's Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, revealed that his son Prince had also died as a result of the virus.