A Brief Commentary on the Question of HIV and AIDS


Some Observations on HIV & Mortality in South Africa: 2007, 2008 & 2013

by Thabo Mbeki

Commencing in January 2016, former South African President Thabo Mbeki began letting the wind out of some of the controversies of his presidency in a series of articles published on his Facebook page.

Journalists immediately began howling over the biggest of these, HIV-AIDS; see REACTION below.

On 7 March Mbeki posted A Brief Commentary on the Question of HIV and AIDS.

And followed up the next day, by posting (PDF, 70 KB; link to a screenshot) TIG general secretary Chris Rawlins’s analysis, A critical analysis of the underlying assumptions used by Chigwedere et al in their article “Estimating The Lost Benefits of Antiretroviral Drug Use in South Africa” published in JAIDS in December 2008 (PDF, 75 KB), tearing to shreds the Harvard paper relied on by ‘our friends, the friends of the Africans’ to charge him with causing over 300 000 avoidable AIDS deaths in South Africa for not sharing their (‘the friends of the Africans’) enthusiasm for the drug industry’s HIV-ARV-AIDS project.

In his ‘Brief Commentary', Mbeki refers to Castro Hlongwane ... HIV/AIDS and the Struggle for the Humanisation of the African, a paper he co-wrote for discussion by the ANC NEC in April 2002 (PDF, 9 MB; the link is to the expanded version, twice the size of the original, which Mbeki gave biographer Mark Gevisser in June 2007).

In 'Castro Hlongwane', Mbeki addressed the core trouble with the HIV theory of AIDS: the 'HIV' isolation question (PDF, 1 MB).

(In two interviews in 2000, Kgalema Motlanthe, Mbeki’s successor as President for a few months, very pertinently did so so too.)

On 9 March 2016, Rawlins published a short summary: The irreconcilable contradictions between the HSRC's hiv statistics and StatsSA's mortality data (PDF, 10 KB).

See Rawlins's further analyses posted near the bottom of the TIG homepage. Citing more recent data published by the HSRC, MRC, StatsSA and ASSA, his later papers update and strengthen the conclusions of his 2009 refutation of the Chigwedere paper to which Mbeki referred in his 'Brief Commentary'.

On 11 March, Brink and Rawlins were interviewed on the SABC morning radio programme SAfm about why Mbeki was right.

On 14 March, Mbeki published Some Observations on HIV & Mortality in South Africa: 2007, 2008 & 2013.

But misstepped the following day, 15 March, by linking on his Facebook page (PDF, 36 KB) a bad paper by Duesberg et al (promoting his harmless passenger virus story) to refute the Chigwedere one -- already taken apart by Rawlins, whose analysis he'd posted on the 8th (see above). Our friend Claus Jensen shows how poor the just-linked Duesberg paper is, and provides a demolition of the Chigwedere paper of his own (PDF, 44 and 36 KB).

On the 15th, Brink and Rawlins were interviewed supporting Mbeki by Kaya FM.

On the 20th, the Sunday Tribune published Rawlins's letter about all this (PDF, 385 KB). Two errors: The US Pepfar fund allocated more than 5 billion dollars, not rands. And the Catholic Church has been spending up to 60 million rands annually on the drugs, not R60,000. Source: Sr Alison Munro, Director of the Aids Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, page 27 of Catholic Responses to Aids in Southern Africa, edited by her and Fr Stuart Bate. .



On 15 January, long before Mbeki got to deal with AIDS in his Monday letters, an editorial in the Mail & Guardian told the former president to just shut up.

Focusing on AIDS, cartoonist Zapiro accused Mbeki of dishonestly rewriting history in his cartoon in the Mail & Guardian on 22 January.

On 1 February the TAC's Nathan Geffen (now running his own outfit) told us in the Daily Maverick that Mbeki's reputation is not in tatters because he was aloof; no, it's because he hasn't recanted on AIDS and rejoined the believers.

On 4 March 2016, three days before Mbeki posted his ‘Brief Commentary’, Katherine Furman expressed her dismay in Times LIVE over Mbeki’s reagitation of the controversies of his presidency, in a pathetic stew of pop psychology and half-baked philosophizing:: How Mbeki's character and his AIDS denialism are intimately linked.

7 March

The Madness of King Mbeki, HIV/AIDS edition -- Richard Poplak, Daily Maverick

Mbeki rekindles AIDS denialism debacle in letter -- BDlive

Mbeki confirms he is an AIDS denialist -- Nathan Geffen, Politicsweb

Cartoonist Zapiro portrays Mbeki as a mental case -- Mail & Guardian

Mbeki: I stand by my Aids statements -- Times LIVE

Mbeki sticks to his guns on HIV & AIDS, nutrition -- EWN

8 March

Mbeki is a highly educated fool, says HIV activist Lucky Mazibuko -- CapeTalk

Former South African president criticized for AIDS comments -- CTV News

Ramaphosa to brief on Aids plans — two days after Mbeki denied ... -- Rand Daily Mail

Motswaledi addresses Mbeki Aids denialism saga -- Citizen

Mbeki deserves to be condemned by history, says TAC -- Mia Malan, Mail & Guardian (in print ed.)

Mbeki still believes his own Aids propaganda -- Kerry Cullinan, Health24

An open letter to Thabo Mbeki by a clinical associate -- Health24

Zapiro portrays Mbeki as a mass killer -- TIMES LIVE

9 March

Mbeki was right about HIV and Aids – researchers -- Mail & Guardian Online. But censored it the next day: 'The M&G removed this article (published on March 10 [sic: the 9th]) from its website. By republishing a News24 wire story on our home page, we irresponsibly gave coverage to Aids denialists and the dangerous misinformation they peddle. We have retracted this story and apologise for the error.'

Mbeki was right about HIV and Aids - independent researchers -- Highly Cited-News24 (Note: Brink quotations garbled by the sub-editor)

Mbeki's Aids comments a distraction: Sanac -- Independent Online

OPINION: Thabo Mbeki, The Unforgiven -- Eyewitness News

Thabo Mbeki is a coward and his Aids denialism was catastrophic - TAC -- Health24

10 March

Research body responds to Mbeki’s letter on Aids --

Mbeki is correct about HIV/Aids, say two local Aids dissidents -- BDlive

Thabo Mbeki letter proves it was no mistake sacking him -- Times LIVE

Mbeki should boldly face up to his HIV/AIDS mistakes - SACP -- Politicsweb

Mbeki's foot-in-mouth syndrome -- Independent Online

Research body responds to Mbeki's letter on Aids --

Thabo Mbeki was right, say HIV denialists -- Sowetan LIVE

Mbeki is correct about HIV/Aids, say two local Aids dissidents -- The Zimbabwe Mail

11 March

No credibility as a researcher – a letter to News24 -- Marcus Low, Daily Maverick

15 questions for Thabo Mbeki -- Shaun de Waal, Mail & Guardian

Mbeki's opening up old wounds and hindering fight against HIV -- eNCA

Snub Mbeki like he did Nkosi -- Mail & Guardian (in print ed.)

On Mbeki’s Brief Commentary -- Jonathan Berger,

Mbeki's opening up old wounds and hindering fight against HIV: activist -- EWN

12 March

Clearing up two Mbeki misconceptions -- Nathan Geffen, GroundUp

Mbeki’s letter on HIV/AIDS a depressing political debate: Motsoaledi -- South African Broadcasting Corporation

Mbeki’s ideas on HIV/Aids should be buried -- Independent Online

Why Mbeki’s HIV views have no place in South Africa -- Newsweek

Ex-South African President Mbeki Still Has His 'Bizarre' Beliefs on HIV and AIDS -- Global Voices Online

Mbeki’s letter on HIV/AIDS a depressing political debate: Motsoaledi -- South African Broadcasting Corporation

Mbeki comes under fire for defending his stance on Aids -- Examiner Gazette‎

13 March

Op-Ed: Go back into the darkness, Mr Mbeki -- Anso Thom, Daily Maverick 

Op-Ed: Coming to the aid of sex workers -- Busani Ngcaweni and Fareed Abdullah, Daily Maverick

14 March

Mbeki queries money spent treating HIV/AIDS -- BDlive

AFRICA CHECK: Why Mbeki's HIV-related deaths claim is misleading -- Eyewitness News

Mbeki HIV argument gains support on Twitter  -- Citizen

Mbeki refuses to back down on 'dissident' HIV/Aids stance -- Times LIVE

Mbeki offers greater clarity on HIV/Aids -- DestinyConnect

Mbeki puzzles over AIDS deaths despite ARVs‎ -- Citizen

Sometimes even urinal graffiti makes more sense than Mbeki -- Stephen Lewis, Daily Maverick

On the white AIDS denialists -- Pierre de Vos, Constitutionally speaking blog

15 March

Groups choose to ignore Mbeki HIV letters -- Independent Online

17 March

'Mbeki debates delayed SA's response to combat HIV/Aids' -- News24

18 March

How to explain former president’s denialism -- Jonny Steinberg, BDlive

Mbeki’s poor judgment left more than just a death legacy -- Wilmot James, BDlive

The demons that haunt Thabo Mbeki -- Rand Daily Mail

Mbeki beetroots worse than Nkandla – Bishop -- Citizen

20 March

Waiting for Zuptas' smoking gun -- Sunday Independent

21 March

Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma share one big weakness -- Rand Daily Mail

23 March

Health minister 'saddened' by Mbeki's views -- ENCA

See dozens of further examples of Galileo's observation:

'For very great is the number of the stupid'