HIV/Aids ‘victory’ Zuma’s greatest achievement – Motlanthe
The greatest achievement of the Zuma administration was the “victory in the area of the struggle against HIV and Aids”, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has said.
Motlanthe co-leads this effort in his capacity as the chairperson of the SA National Aids Council.
Delivering the Jacob Zuma legacy lecture in Potchefstroom in the North West last night – the last in a monthly series that celebrated the lives of 12 ANC presidents to mark the organisation’s 100-year milestone – Motlanthe said: “Through sterling leadership, life expectancy has now been increased to 60. The twin pandemics of HIV and TB have now been brought under control.”
His comments elicited applause from the audience in the Madiba hall, which seemed to be packed with Zuma supporters.
Zuma’s ANC predecessors and former president Thabo Mbeki drew flak for his unconventional views on HIV/Aids and government’s slow roll-out of the delivery of antiretroviral drugs at the time.
Motlanthe also heaped praise on Zuma for his contribution to the struggle against apartheid.
He described Zuma’s life as an “exemplar of how positive thinking thrives against all odds”.
Motlanthe, who is poised to challenge Zuma for party presidency in Mangaung next weekend, steered clear of current politics or the many controversies the incumbent has sparked during his term in office.
Motlanthe praised Zuma for his contribution in bringing about peace and stability in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1990s, bringing an end to the political violence that had gripped the province for more than a decade and claimed thousands of lives.
“This work was important to comrade Zuma as he believed that if KZN violence was not dealt with, it would destabilise the whole country, as indeed the violence at that time was transported to the (Gauteng) reef through single men’s hostels in and around the Pretoria Witwatersrand and Vaal region.
“But his role as a peacemaker did not just end in the province nor just in South Africa. He continues to utilise his skills for the benefit of peace and stability on the entire continent,” he said.
Motlanthe cited political stability in Burundi as an example of a successful Zuma intervention.
The lecture was also attended by Zuma’s extended family, KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize, North West ANC chairperson Supra Mahumapelo and Premier Thandi Modise.
It is not clear why the ANC chose the province, which has been fraught with political infighting, to host the lecture. Zuma was arrested in the North West town of Zeerust in 1963 and was sentenced to a 10-year term on Robben Island for furthering the aims of the ANC.
He later went to exile, where he worked in various capacities for the ANC.