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Mbeki on the land issue in Zimbabwe
A question from Farai Magagula, South Africa
 real 28k

Mbeki on Aids in South Africa
Glenn Evans from Hong Kong
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Mbeki on peace in the Congo
Bernard Dalibuno, in Hawaii from D.R. Congo
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Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
'No land crisis in SA' - Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki: Keen on technology
South African President Thabo Mbeki says he is confident that Zimbabwe's land crisis will not spread to South Africa.

Mr Mbeki was speaking on a special edition of BBC News Online's Talking Point, with questions posed directly to the president by e-mail and by phone.

The Zimbabwe situation was uppermost in the minds of many callers, who came from countries as far apart as the US, South Africa and China.

There were also questions on the South African Government's approach to tackling Aids and crime, and the uses of information technology.

Answering a question on Zimbabwe from Natasha Taylor - a South African living in London - Mr Mbeki replied:



South Africans, both black and white, have accepted the fact that they're all South Africans

Thabo Mbeki
"There is no likelihood that any of this will happen in South Africa. There's nothing to say that what we are facing in this instance is a contagious disease."

Asked whether the anger expressed by some Zimbabweans is not also felt in South Africa, the president responded:

"You've seen South Africa liberated for six years, I'm quite sure if you asked yourself the question why, why you haven't had that eruption from the beginning, is because the South Africans, both black and white, have accepted the fact that they're all South Africans."

Zimbabwean Farai Magagula asked why the South African Government had not put more pressure on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to end the current violence.



It's for you people as Zimbabweans to make sure that you act to ensure that the government does these things which are correct

Thabo Mbeki
Mr Mbeki replied that it was the people of Zimbabwe have themselves a responsibility that to ensure that their elected government behaved properly.

"It's for you people as Zimbabweans to make sure that you act to ensure that the government does these things which are correct legally, correct constitutionally and so on," Mr Mbeki said.

Another Zimbabwean, David Katerere, asked when and how South Africa was going to conduct its own land reform programme.

President Mbeki explained that South Africa has the legal provisions for this to happen.

"One of the constitutional provisions is that there needs to be respect for private property. But there's also a provision in the constitution, which says the matter of this land question needs to be addressed so that we redress past wrongs," the president said.

Information technology



We must make sure that the African continent gets onto the information superhighway

Thabo Mbeki
A regular user of the internet, Mr Mbeki also took questions on the potential of information technology in Africa.

"We must make sure that the African continent gets onto the information superhighway," he said.

"This technology is most useful poor countries."

He spoke of "telemedicine" as one possible use of the internet - where a specialist uses a video link-up to instruct a junior doctor performing an operation in a remote area.

Tackling Aids

The South African Government's approach to Aids also came under scrutiny.

Mr Mbeki was asked why the drug AZT was not being given to pregnant women in South Africa, when studies have shown that AZT can help prevent the transfer of the HIV virus to an unborn baby.

The president responded that South Africa did not have the medical infrastructure to supervise the correct use of the drug, which he said can cause harm if administered incorrectly.

"When you dispense AZT it must be done under close medical supervision," Mr Mbeki said. "You cannot do it in a rural district hospital."



with the change in the country a lot of that crime spilt over into white areas and that resulted in a lot more reporting of it

Thabo Mbeki
There were also questions concerning scientists who have been appointed to an advisory body on Aids, who have attracted controversy for stating that Aids is not caused by the HIV virus.

Mr Mbeki replied that there were still unresolved questions regarding Aids and HIV, and that all scientists agreed these questions needed to be addressed.

Crime

A Jamaican-born woman living in the United Kingdom said she had been considering emigrating to South Africa, but had been put off by reports of rising crime.

Mr Mbeki said crime was not a new phenomenon in South Africa.



I learnt a lot from [Mandela] and have been able to use that to continue from where he was

Thabo Mbeki
"What has happened is that with the change in the country a lot of that crime spilt over into white areas and that resulted in a lot more reporting of it."

He said some studies indicated that crime had actually dropped since the end of apartheid in 1994.

In Mandela's shoes

A caller asked whether it had been difficult to step into Nelson Mandela's shoes.

Mr Mbeki replied he had had the good fortune to have worked with Mr Mandela for many years.

"I learnt a lot from him and have been able to use that to continue from where he was - that makes it easier."

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See also:

18 May 00 | UK Politics
Blair and Mbeki unite over Zimbabwe
14 Jan 99 | Africa
Profile: Thabo Mbeki
06 May 00 | Africa
South Africa tackles Aids
06 May 00 | Africa
Mbeki urges end to land crisis
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