So Gareth Cliff is insensitive for speaking ill of the dead. We should obviously now accept the word of the ANC that Manto Tshabalala-Msimang didn’t use her influence to hijack a donor liver from somebody who’d been waiting much longer than she had, and the stories about her kleptomania were surely contrived by her political opponents. What can’t be ignored, though, are the lives of the estimated 300 000 HIV patients who died on her watch. The world rejoiced when Hitler topped himself, Stalin’s departure certainly didn’t cause many tears to flow, Mussolini’s hanging was seen as cause for celebration rather than mourning, and the day that Mad Bob shuffles off into the unknown is unlikely to be seen as an event worth mourning by anybody other than his corrupt cronies in Zimbabwe and South Africa. While Manto wasn’t quite in the same league as those dictators, I’m certainly not going to start pumping out crocodile tears now that she’s gone, and, apart from loyal ANC members and Dave Harris, I suspect that most South Africans feel the same. The Sunday Times got it right. Manto was a drunk and a thief. She also callously condemned hundreds of thousands of South Africans to death, and turned our country into an international laughing stock with her garlic and beetroot treatment regime. Why should we suddenly pretend otherwise? Nobody accuses Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini’s critics of insensitivity when they speak ill of the dead.
Manto’s gone, so what?
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