Controversial Criselda should have no place on Aids council – DA

HIV-Aids activist Criselda Kananda-Dudumashe.
HIV-Aids activist Criselda Kananda-Dudumashe.

The Democratic Alliance has written to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to request that wellness activist Criselda Kananda-Dudumashe is not appointed to the Board of the South African National Aids Council (Sanac).

Health-e reported the controversial Metro FM host is due to be appointed to the Sanac board after being recommended to Ramaphosa.

He is expected to announce the new Sanac board soon.

Kananda-Dudumashe came under fire over the weekend for comments she made on social media defending deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana.

Manana, who has admitted to assaulting two women at a Johannesburg nightclub two weeks ago, is facing charges of alleged assault and resigned on Saturday following mounting pressure for him to do so.

Kananda-Dudumashe gave a detailed list of Manana’s credentials, both as an activist and a public servant, saying he has “[encouraged] young people to be informed ... to be educated and selfless in uplifting others”.

“As a mother to daughters and a person who suffered domestic abuse I wish I could say lock him up and throw away the keys.

“But having interacted with him I know how remorseful he is,” she wrote on Facebook.

“Mandisa Duma I’m sorry you were hurt and humiliated at the hands of a good person ... my leader [Manana] thank you for serving humanity I hope you find closure that won’t move you away from from serving people of this country. There I said ... ” she concluded.

Many expressed anger and disappointment at Kananda-Dudumashe, while some accused her of playing party politics for self-benefit.

Kananda-Dudumashe has since deleted the posts from her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

“The DA is of the belief that Kananda-Dudumashe is not fit to serve on the Sanac board given the numerous concerning public comments she has made,” DA MP Patricia Kopane said.

In the statement, the DA goes on to refer to a 2014 news article in The Citizen newspaper where Kananda-Dudumashe, who is HIV positive, was quoted as saying she will never take antiretrovirals because they are “deadly and easy way out”.

The radio personality reportedly said HIV does not cause Aids and that “Aids is instead the result of a compromised immune system, of living an unhealthy lifestyle and being attacked by infectious diseases”.

The DA said that the comments pointed to the fact that Kananda-Dudumashe may be an Aids denialist.

“We have seen how detrimental Aids denialism is. More than 300 000 South Africans lost their lives because of the Aids denialism of the Mbeki-administration.

“The DA respects Kananda-Dudumashe’s personal choice for alternative treatments of HIV/Aids. [But her] past comments on HIV/Aids are misleading and irresponsible, especially as a public figure.

“[Her] utterances clearly suggest that she is not fit to hold any position on the Sanac Board,” the DA said.

Kananda-Dudumashe made news again yesterday when she was accused of ‘ridiculing’ the LGBTI community with remarks at an AIDS gender-based violence dialogue at the University of Venda.

She has since posted an apology on her Instagram account.

It pains me greatly to see that a post shared on social media and my words at last week’s dialogue held at the University of Venda have upset a number of South Africans, many of whom support me on radio and others being fans throughout my career. I unreservedly apologise for the hurt my words have caused. To the many activists and victims of abuse, I realise that I have let you down. That was never my intent and for that I am deeply sorry. Given the criticism and feedback, I went back to read the posts and fully understand the anger and backlash from South Africans who expected better from me, particularly given the work I do, my own history and the position I hold as a media personality. To my employer the SABC, my colleagues and loyal listeners of my show on Metro FM I apologise for letting you down. My words came across as though I have no regard for victims and survivors of abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth! As a victim myself and a humanitarian, I strongly condemn all forms of sexual and gender based violence and believe that no one should be violated in any way. Those found guilty of abuse or any violation of human rights, should face the full might of the law I remain committed to serving humanity and will continue to make a difference where I can. I apologize to the LGBTIQ community, everyone who attended the GBV session at the University of Venda and all South Africans for my statements. I am so sorry!

A post shared by Criselda Kananda (@positivegp) on

She has subsequently been relieved of her duties as an ambassador by The Higher Education and Training HIV/Aids (HEAIDS) programme.

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