Has President Jacob Zuma done more damage to the fight against HIV and Aids than his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki? Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape and leader of South Africa’s opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA), thinks so.
On her official Twitter account, Zille recently tweeted: “If Mbeki set the Aids fight back, Zuma has done so far more.”
In another tweet, Zille claimed that Zuma’s “multiple concurrent sexual partners” had “equally undermined [the] fight against Aids”.
Is there any truth to her claims? A reader asked us to investigate.
Zuma’s ‘role model’ impact
Zille told Africa Check that it “is certainly my opinion that Zuma has done far more than Mbeki to set back the fight against Aids”.
She said that while Mbeki had publicly questioned the link between HIV and Aids, “it was possible to get across the fact that unprotected sex is the primary cause of transmission”.
Zuma, by comparison, “is notorious for having sexual partners outside his current marriage relationships”.
“He made world headlines when he announced that he had knowingly had unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman and had a shower afterwards to stop himself getting Aids. And this very graphic example of behaviour that leads directly to the spread of Aids had a far stronger role model impact than anything obtuse that Mbeki ever said on the subject.”