A pronouncement by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang that South Africa
must be militarily prepared for a possible invasion by the United States is
"totally irresponsible", Afrikaner Eenheidsbeweging (AEB) leader Cassie Aucamp
said on Wednesday.
He was reacting to a report in a British newspaper, the Guardian, on Tuesday
that quotes the South African health minister as saying: "Look at what Bush is
doing. He could invade."
Tshabalala reportedly made the statement during a recent interview with the
daily, which was quizzing her on the availability of drugs to fight Aids.
She told the Guardian that budgetary priorities meant her department could not
provide anti-retrovirals to the estimated 4,5-million South Africans with HIV.
"We don't have the money for that. Where would it come from?" the newspaper
quoted her as saying.
Asked if it could come from defence savings, if three proposed submarines were
left out of South Africa's UK4-billion arms deal, the minister said the country
needed to deter aggressors.
"South Africa cannot afford drugs to fight HIV and Aids partly because it needs
submarines to deter attacks from nations such as the US," the Guardian quotes
Tshabalala-Msimang as saying.
Aucamp said statements such as this were not only totally unfounded, but could
kill President Thabo Mbeki's initiatives for an African renaissance and foreign
investment in Nepad.
"The AEB calls on Mr Mbeki to do some damage control and repudiate what
Tshabalala-Msimang has said."
He warned against the development of an "anti-US culture within the ANC".
Aucamp said the AEB had serious doubts about the health minister's view of
international politics, and advised her to stick with her stethoscope.
Health ministry spokeswoman Jo-Ann Collinge said the department declined to
comment at this stage.