Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Manto and doctors must sue or else....

The Sunday Times is now being attacked from all sides for publishing the sensational allegations that Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang was convicted thief and alcoholic and that the real reasons for her liver transplant (alcoholism) was covered up by medical staff. The National Working Committee (NWC) of the ANC (but not Kgalema Montlante!) issued a statement yesterday attacking the Sunday Times for its "character assassination" of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang. The statement read in part:
“The national working committee views these reports with grave concern, not merely because [they] violate an individual’s right to privacy, but because [they] affect the right of all South Africans to expect their medical information to remain confidential."
But the privacy of the Minister is not really the issue. Surely the statement from the ANC should have disputed the accuracy of the claims made by the Sunday Times. The "character assassination" by the Sunday Times does not stem from the breach of the Minister's medical privacy, but from seriously defamatory statements about her drinking habits and about the abuse of power and corruption by the Minister and her Doctors.

The only way the Minister, the doctors involved and the Hospital can restore their reputations is by instituting a defamation action against the Sunday Times. If the allegations are untrue, they will be able to sue the pants of the newspaper and probably get a pretty penny out of the deal.

If they fail to sue, the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn would be that the newspaper report was correct and that there was corruption involved in the liver transplant. If this happens, the Minister should be fired and the Doctors scrapped from the medical roll.

The Presidency has asked for evidence of wrongdoing before taking action against the Minister. All the proof it may need will be provided by the absence of a defamation suit. But of course, even then the President will not fire the Minister because he will look weak and disloyal if he does. This means he is now probably stuck with a Minister which may well prove to be a thief and drunk and an abuser of her power.

I give the Minister and her Doctors two weeks to institute defamation proceedings. If they fail to do so, I will assume that the story is true.


Anonymous said...

I disagree with your suggestion that if Manto fails to sue the only reasonable conclusion must be that the defamatory press reports are true. Even if they are not true, it would be inadvisable to sue if one does not have a reputation worthy of protection.

Anonymous said...

I kinda fail to see the nexus between all allegations(for now at least) and why the minister should be fired. Why? Well on the account of thievery i think prescription as a defence is not to far fetched. Also, i think there are strong indications of rehabilitation. When you guys said did it happen again? The liver issue at this stage is much debatble, cuase there are just so many contradicting stories in differnt newspapers. Heita Holla

Pierre de Vos said...

Ezasekasi, I agree with you that the latest revelations are not really the reason why the Minister must be fired. Her performance over the past seven years is what damns her. But if it is true that she used her power to jump the transplant queue she is guilty of corruption and this will be very relevant to her suitability for office.