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Part of John Robbie's interview
"I am asking you a straight question: Does HIV cause Aids?"
 real 28k

702 station manager Dan Moyane
"702 has not offered an apology"
 real 28k

Thursday, 14 September, 2000, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
'Don't call me Manto'
Aids campaigners at a recent conference
Government is under increasing pressure over Aids
The ANC called on South African radio station 702 Talk Radio to dismiss its presenter, John Robbie, after he clashed with Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang when she refused to say whether she believed HIV caused Aids. Here are selected excerpts from the interview.

The question

[Q] You have said that the policy of the ministry is well known. Do you accept that HIV causes Aids?

I have never in my life heard such rubbish.

John Robbie
[A] Why do you ask me that question today? I have answered that question umpteen times.

[Q] Yes, and the answer is?

[A] Umpteen times I have answered that question. My whole track record of having worked at the area of HIV and Aids for the last 20 years is testimony. Why should you ask me that question today?

[Q] You haven't answered the question, Manto.

You will not force me into a corner into saying yes or no.

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
[A] Why should you ask me that question?

[Q] To avoid confusion.

[A] I have never said anything contrary to what you want me to say today.

Into a corner?

[Q] So, therefore, you accept that HIV causes Aids.

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
[A] You are not going to put words into my mouth.

[Q] I am not putting words into your mouth. I am asking you a question.

[A] Yes you are.

[Q] I am asking you a straight - now hold on a second - I am asking you a straight question, the minister of health of South Africa, I am asking you a question: does HIV cause Aids?

[A] I have been party to developing a strategic framework and that strategy testifies what my policy understandings of the HIV epidemic are. If you haven't read that, please go and read it. And then you will understand where I depart from...

[Q] Manto, Manto. A simple yes or no is the answer I am looking for.

John Robbie
Combative presenter John Robbie
[A] You will not force me into a corner into saying yes or no.

[Q] I am not forcing you into a corner, I am asking you a straight question - I find your reaction bizarre.

[A] I would advise you to read the strategic framework. You have to analyse it. It is important for the media to inform the public about the positions of government ... It is time that when you interview people not on yes or no but on the tenets of the framework.

[Q] Manto, we have gone as far as we can go. I find your reaction to that question absolutely bizarre and that is my final word on it.

Manto or not Manto

[A] I am not Manto to you. Let me tell you I am not Manto to you.

[Q] What are you?

[A] I am the minister of health and I don't even know you.

[Q] So, what must I address you as, Miss Minister or Ms Minister or Mrs Minister?

[A] I don't know whatever you address me, but I am not a friend.

[Q] How must I address you?

[A] I don't know - but you have to read the strategic framework.

[Q] Bizarre.

[A] And I...

Turning nasty

[Q] Oh go away!

I won't call her Manto again

John Robbie
[A] And I am...

[Q] I cannot take that rubbish any longer. Can you believe it? I have never in my life heard such rubbish.

Here we have a situation where the minister of health sends out a document, amongst others, that is loony tunes, that suggests that the lluminati have conspired with the aliens to bring about Aids to reduce the African population. [A reference to a document sent out by the health ministry which suggests that Aids was part of a conspiracy against Africans.]

Now you get the minister on [radio] to explain this and see what happens.

Given that the president has led, not just in South Africa, but a complete world controversy, where many people think this country has been held up to ridicule at an international conference over this issue and given the proximity of the two, I thought it would be a good idea to get the minister in on this issue...

The fact that she would not answer that question leads me to be very, very worried indeed. I find that bizarre.

Anyway, I won't call her Manto again.

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See also:

14 Jul 00 | Health
Mandela urges unity against Aids
14 Jul 00 | Media reports
Mandela's Aids speech: Excerpts
10 Jul 00 | Africa
Controversy dogs Aids forum
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