South African Government defiant against AIDS accusations

A day after a trade union leader accused the South African government of being irresponsible dealing with the AIDS crisis in the country, South Africa's health minister lashed out angrily against the allegations.

Trade leader Zwelinzima Vavi had also accused President Thabo Mbeki of a "failure of leadership". "Any health ministry that presides over the spread of an epidemic like this one has much to answer for," said Mr Vavi, secretary general of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Cosatu).

"When last did any of us hear our president mentioning the words HIV and Aids?" Mr Vavi asked.

Six million of South Africa's 45m people are infected with HIV, according to the health department.

Strains have emerged in the alliance between Mr Mbeki's ANC and the unions, who demand more action on poverty.


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