Posted on November 1, 2004

The Madness of Thabo Mbeki

Andrew Kenny, The Spectator, Oct. 30

Jews cannot spit any more because they used up all their saliva spitting at Jesus. Chinese women have horizontal vaginas. Africans have small brains, huge genitals and uncontrollable sexual appetites. Is there any sane adult today who takes the slightest heed of fantastic racial legends such as these? Unfortunately, there is one: the President of South Africa.

Last week in the South African Parliament, President Thabo Mbeki was asked a detailed question about the government’s policy on Aids and the effect of South Africa’s very high incidence of rape on the spread of the disease. It had been given to him two weeks previously. Mbeki replied by ignoring the question and saying that he would only address the ‘central issue’ of racism. He said this:

‘I for my part will not keep quiet while others whose minds have been corrupted by the disease of racism accuse us, the black people of South Africa, of Africa and the world, as being, by virtue of our Africanness and skin colour, lazy, liars, foul-smelling, diseased, corrupt, violent, amoral, sexually depraved, animalistic, savage and rapist.’

He also quoted a black American who said whites accused blacks of being ‘rampant sexual beasts, unable to control our urges, unable to keep our legs crossed, unable to keep it in our pants’. Of course none of Mbeki’s critics had ever made any such accusations. His words brought rapturous applause from the ANC members, but they frighten me for the future of South Africa. Mbeki’s irrationality is disturbing and there is something chilling about his lack of compassion for the victims of Aids. A vast tragedy is unfolding over South Africa: young orphans are heading households and grandmothers are burying children and grandchildren. But Mbeki is so immersed in his disgusting racial fantasies that he cannot spare a drop of pity for them.

On 20 September 2000, asked whether HIV caused Aids, Mbeki said this:

‘Does HIV cause Aids? Aids is an acquired immune deficiency syndrome. I don’t believe it is a sensible thing to ask if a virus causes a syndrome. A single virus cannot cause a syndrome. A virus causes a disease. Aids is a syndrome . . . including 29 different diseases. When you ask the question, does HIV cause Aids, the question is: does a virus cause a syndrome? It can’t.’

He said that HIV could contribute to Aids but could not cause it alone. He is completely wrong. HIV causes Aids on its own as surely as the malaria parasite causes malaria. HIV attacks the CD4 cells of the immune system, wrecking it and leaving the body open to attack by other hostile organisms. A person healthy in every other way but infected with HIV is almost certain to get Aids and to die of it.

The HIV virus is very well understood. It is a bog-standard member of a retrovirus family that infects apes and was passed to humans by them. Men and animals have been exchanging diseases throughout history. HIV would have passed from apes to men by the mundane procedure of Africans butchering apes for meat and blood spilling on to their skin.

Unfortunately, the plague of Aids has attracted an army of professional doomsters who are always looking for a scare to provide them with the two things they long for most: Armageddon and conferences. My friend and compatriot, Rian Malan, is quite right to criticise their wild predictions of calamity. (Incidentally, Rian, despite his boasts to the contrary, is not smelly.) But, if the global warming scare is 10 per cent science and 90 per cent speculation, the Aids scare is 90 per cent science and 10 per cent speculation. The only uncertainty is over infection rates, death rates and the period between HIV infection and the onset of Aids.

Mbeki’s mad stance on Aids has been ruinous for South African government policy against the disease. Why has he taken it? There are various suggestions.

One is that he himself has Aids. This is almost certainly nonsense. Another is an economic conspiracy theory. In South Africa Aids does affect certain professional people, notably teachers, but it seems most widespread among the desperately poor and jobless, a large group that does not contribute to the formal economy. The theory goes that the cost of supplying medical treatment to these people would outweigh the economic gain. Indeed the economy would be better without them. Corporations already supply private treatment to their employees. So pretend there is no such thing as Aids, let the poor die and save a lot of money. I do not believe that the South African government is acting in this Machiavellian way. I do not believe Mbeki is as cold-blooded as that.

On the contrary, I believe the reason is a hot-blooded one. Whereas Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is concerned only about power and uses race purely as a screen behind which he can crush his black population and maintain his rule, Mbeki seems genuinely obsessed with it.

When Aids began to devastate Africa, Mbeki could choose between two opposite conspiracies for blaming the white man. The first is that Aids is a deadly killer and the evil global drug companies are deliberately raising the prices of life-saving anti-retroviral drugs so as to make them unaffordable in Africa and thus to depopulate the continent. (The Kenyan Nobel peace prize-winner this year, Wangari Maathai, believes that the evil white man actual invented HIV.) The second is that Aids does not exist and the evil global drug companies are deliberately flooding Africa with deadly poisonous anti-retroviral drugs so as to depopulate the continent. Either theory would have suited Mbeki. Through a series of accidents, he latched on to the latter, made a fool of himself in so doing, became furious and is now using this anger to feed his racial phobias.

A vivid episode in this sorry story concerns Charlene Smith, a white journalist and an anti-apartheid, pro-ANC activist, the last word in progressive causes. In 1999 she was raped. She wrote a newspaper article on her experience and urged other rape victims to speak out. She was inundated by correspondence from such women, most of them black, thanking her, congratulating her, telling her of their own much worse experiences and of the dreadful prevalence of rape in their own communities. She wrote a book, Proud of Me. It is excruciating in its political correctness (she was amazed that anyone should think that the fact that her rapist was black should make any difference whatsoever) but otherwise stark, brave and heartfelt; it shines a bright light upon a dark area. She speaks at length of HIV and Aids, which she says is greatly exacerbated by rape. Mbeki responded to her arguments by saying she was ‘blinded by racist rage’.

A mass of evidence backs Charlene Smith. Coerced sex, which can range from a man forcing himself on a reluctant wife to the gang-rape of a child virgin, is much more likely to spread HIV than consensual sex is. In consensual sex, the vagina is likely to be lubricated and relaxed, presenting a natural barrier to the virus. In forced sex, it is dry and tight, and much more likely to tear, providing a doorway for the virus. It seems that in Africa there is a lot of forced sex. Many men seem to feel it their right to take a woman, and women tend to regard sex as at best a joyless duty, at worst a compulsory ordeal.

I spoke to a white man who employs about 20 black women from the Cape Town township of Guguletu. He was worried about Aids and gathered the ladies together to educate them. He said, ‘You must make your husbands and boyfriends wear condoms.’ There was a gale of derisive laughter. The stupid white man was simply inviting them to be beaten up. A black friend told me that at his school the final-year boys never courted the final-year girls because they knew they were reserved for the teachers. There seems to have been a recent rise in the death rates of young African women and middle-aged African men, suggesting ‘inter-generational sex’ (dirty old men claiming young girls). Young is becoming younger: a recent research study shows that 33 per cent of South African children have had sexual intercourse by the age of 10 and 66 per cent by the age of 18.

Behind all of this lies the greatest tragedy of black people in the world: the breakdown of the black family. This is the supreme taboo. Even to mention it would have Mbeki foaming at the mouth. In the USA in 1965 the liberal US Senator Daniel Moynihan was denigrated when he reported that half the black population suffered from ‘social pathology’ because of black men deserting their wives and children. But he was right. Why has the black family broken down?

During slavery in the US, most black children lived with their mothers and fathers. From the ending of slavery in the 1860s until about 1940, black family life was faithful and stable, by some counts better than white family life. It was almost unknown for black children to be born out of wedlock. Mother, father and children lived happily together. Then after 1940 something happened. Today about 70 per cent of black children are born out of marriage and only 40 per cent of black children live with both parents. Some explanations include the migration of people to the cities and the corrosive influence of ‘progressive’ policies in inducing young single black girls to become dependent on state handouts for their babies.

In South Africa many black children, perhaps a majority, do not know who their father is. A recent study showed that only 20 per cent of children in Soweto and Johannesburg were living with their fathers by the age of 12. Apartheid, with its forced separation of male workers from their homes, must bear much of the blame, and also such factors as the effect of modernity on traditional African polygamy. I do not understand all the reasons but I believe it is desperately important to find the cause.

In the US, black scholars such as Professors Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are leading a moral crusade for the black family. The wonderful Bill Cosby has joined them. In Africa, President Museveni of Uganda has led a highly successful campaign against Aids mainly by preaching in favour of sexual faithfulness and family values.

I wish one of these gentlemen would have a chat with President Mbeki.