"Are you or have you ever been an HIV-denialist?"
30 March 2009

In his new magazine Essop Pahad asks Thabo Mbeki about his controversial views on AIDS

Last week saw the launch of The Thinker, a vanity project of former minister in the presidency, Essop Pahad. In an editorial Pahad writes that the magazine will "strive to give all its contributors the freedom to express what they think, understanding that openness in the context of ideas, theoretical divergences and multi-dimensional practice is a necessary condition for fundamental social transformation. We are committed to opening up the space for honestly-expressed views, mindful that the ideas, analyses and commentaries that we will publish may be uncomfortable for some and anathema for others."

The main item of interest in the launch edition is an interview by Pahad with his friend and former boss Thabo Mbeki. As minister in the presidency Pahad was both an enforcer for, and protector of, Mbeki. He used his position as head of government communications to obfuscate Mbeki's true (‘dissident' or ‘denialist') views on ‘HIV and AIDS'. In the interview Pahad notes the allegation that Mbeki is an AIDS ‘dissident'. He then asks: "Are you or have you ever been an HIV-denialist"? Mbeki answers that the "time will surely come" when it will be possible to discuss this issue rationally. But he goes on to make clear that he remains wedded to his contrarian views on the disease. He states:

"To assist people who honestly, and I mean honestly, want to understand what I sought to do with regard to the issue of HIV and AIDS, I would recommend that they read the 2001 Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Report which is carried on the website (see here - PDF). They should also read the remarks I made at the very first meeting of the Panel, which also appear on the same website (see here). The issues we raised never impacted on the implementation of the government programme which, then as now, was based in part on the thesis that HIV causes AIDS. Anybody who is honestly interested in understanding the challenges relating to the issue of AIDS will know that the issues discussed by the Advisory Panel so many years ago are matters with which scientists continue to grapple to this day. Among these are the search by scientists for an answer to the question why world medical science has so far failed to develop an HIV vaccine, despite the brain power and the billions of dollars that have been focused on this project for decades."

Pahad also asks Mbeki about the allegation that he snubbed the ANC by not accepting an invitation to attend the party's manifesto launch. Mbeki replied that "The only ‘invitation' I received... was an SMS sent to my PA by the PA of one of the members of the ANC NEC, to attend an ANC fund-raising dinner during the evening preceding the launch, with the obvious and natural presumption that I would then attend the rally to launch the Manifesto the following day. I do not believe that this is the manner in which the ANC leadership would have extended an invitation to me to attend the ANC Manifesto launch, if it seriously wanted me to do so."

Pahad has had at least two previous forays into publishing. According to the curriculum vitae published on the presidency's website Pahad "represented the SACP on the Editorial Council of the World Marxist Review between1975 and 1985." More recently, he successfully prevailed upon ABSA bank to pay the author Ronald Suresh Roberts R1,43m to produce a book on Thabo Mbeki's intellectual traditions. Roberts is listed as one of a number of "contributing analysts" to the magazine, but no article of his appears in the first edition.

The advertising rates for The Thinker - which has a print run of 5000 - range from R12,500 to R29,950 a page (exc. vat). Among the companies and institutions who have chosen to advertise in the March 2009 edition are Mabula Game Lodge, Anant Singh productions, Alexander Forbes, DHL, The Media Development & Diversity Agency, Sasol, Motani Lodge, Pinnacle Point Group Limited, Sahara computers and Tata Africa.

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If you come across comments that are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate; contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs, please report them and they will be removed.
 responses to this article

Very Interesting
I bought and read the Magazine, found it very interesting and look forward to up coming issues, and hope and pray it will be even more interesting and not boring.

The article referred to abover - offered more than the SA Media reported on about . .more

by Akanyang Merementsi on March 30 2009, 06:58
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An Open Mind
Was struck by Mbeki's enquiring mind and resistance to heuristics after reading the 2001 Presidential AIDS Advisory Panel Report.

by BB @ MoreThanMoney on March 30 2009, 08:07
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Open mind?
Yes, a very *open* mind, as in: `ever crackpot idea was allowed to wander in'. Both Mbeki and the ever appalling Brink treated AIDS as some sort of intellectual game, with Brink, in particular, playing it as a lawyer, quoting carefully selected gobbets to . .more

by Gus Gosling on March 30 2009, 09:03
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The magazine was a worthy buy.Looking forward to the next copy.As for Mbeki, what ever the popular position of those that denigrate him, the man is an intensely talented and deep thinker

by BLACK VOICES on March 30 2009, 09:19
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Press releases for the indoctinated
Nothing more than puff pieces for Mebki's brain-washed millions. Pahad's only rightful place in society is in a carnival freak show as the Amazing Idiot. Let's hope The Stinker ends up on the scrapheap of other publishing failures.

by ps on March 30 2009, 09:43
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Worthy buy?
Like the last Mbeki puff-project, *Molotov Cocktail*? That one seems to have disappeared with the fall of Mbeki. Gosh, how I miss it! Where will I get my allowance of puerile schoolboy humour (those Paratus photos!) and low homophobia.

by Gus Gosling on March 30 2009, 10:02
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Intellectual Debate!!
Mbeki has the blood of 300 000 aids victims on his hands. He should be tried for crimes against humanity. And when Africa gets over itself, he will be remembered as a murderer.

by Swazi on March 30 2009, 11:00
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Mbeki is tired news. You can't recycle bullsh@t is stays the same. We have moved on to the promised land of Msholozi. Viva JZ

by majozi on March 30 2009, 11:48
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Thabo and Essop have converted me to Marxism
It was the great Karl who wrote:
History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce.

Every day the ANC duplicates the Nats more and more.

Now Cde Pahad is into publishing, shades of Infogate, L Luyt and the Citizen.

by Theseus on March 30 2009, 11:54
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No Thinkers in the ANC in my opinion
If there were would we have Julius, Manto, the Home Affiars and Crime ministers, the string of failures at SAA, Eskom, Zuma dancing and singing and suing cartoonists andn having 6 woves and 20 something kids, Hlope, the arms corruption, zuma avoiding his . .more

by Rubbish on March 30 2009, 13:17
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Roberts as an "analyst"?
That ensures I won't buy it! No wonder the advertising rates are so high, he needs the bucks to satisfy his outstanding legal bill after trying to sue the Sunday Times for pointing out that he is a pratt.

by Bob on March 30 2009, 14:35
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The Thinker
These two buffoons simply won't go away.

The title of their magazine says it all - hubris and arrogance to the end.

Send them both to the Hague where they can carry on editing their magazine in a 6x6 foot cell.

by Titus on March 30 2009, 14:42
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Viva Denialism and Thabo's courage
You may think my subject is tongue-in-cheek or sarcastic... but it's not really, particularly when it comes to AIDS. There are too many questions and too many uncertainties regarding the disease that are censored, not necessarily by any official policy, . .more

by JK on March 30 2009, 15:13
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Exclusive in issue 2 - Zuma interviewed
When asked by the BBC if he was a crook, Zuma famously replied "what is a crook".

In an exclusive interview we delve further into the mind of SA's potential next President...

Essop - Would you say you are a big thinker ?
Zuma - what . .more

by Sad Days on March 30 2009, 15:54
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Good read
The first edition has been good and hopefully then next ones are going to keep up the standard or get better!
Funny how people have no real arguments tend to resort to insults.

Swazi who came up with that stats and what is their motive! We . .more

by Mlingane on March 30 2009, 15:55
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This is a conservative estimate of unnecessary Aids related deaths because ARV's were not available because of Manto and Thabo's semantic squabbling. Millions can live relatively normal lives while on ARV's. I manage an HIV programme in Swaziland and . .more

by Dear Mlingane on March 30 2009, 16:34
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Denialism is not a crime ..... is a point of view.

by Johnny Winter on March 30 2009, 17:53
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I'm confused - what exactly is a "talented thinker"?

As to thinking, some thoughts are better kept to oneself, lest vanity overcomes reason....

by Andy on March 30 2009, 18:48
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So German denial of Jewish existence was just an inconvenient philosophy then?

by @Johnny on March 31 2009, 08:05
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No link
There is no logical link between the holocaust and the HIV / AIDS question.

by Johnny Winter on March 31 2009, 09:46
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Mbeki the Thinker??
Too bad he had all these Intellectual positions in his head only. If he only was able to lead once, he would have got my vote. Having ideas is only part of the trick, having your people buy onto them freely and implementing them is where true leadership . .more

by GK on March 31 2009, 11:41
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@johnny winter
The link is that they both resulted in a lot of people dying for no reason. The logic is there, you just have to pull your head out of your posterior to see it.

by ps on March 31 2009, 13:23
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The NAZI's had their own reasons for murdering Jews. People who dispute the HIV causes AIDS hypothesis are only interested in the evidence. By comparing them to NAZI's you are attempting to stifle any opinion which differs from your own. So much for . .more

by Johnny Winter on March 31 2009, 15:52
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The Thinker: An open letter to Essop Pahad
The 'ever awful Brink' has posted an open letter to Essop Pahad at

'The Thinker: Questions of Direction, Questions of Intellectual and Political Integrity: Essop Pahad, Ronald Suresh Roberts, Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe, . .more

by Anthony Brink on April 23 2009, 10:43
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