I haven’t wanted to get into politics here, but I can’t resist the urge to have a downright big fat moan about our latest debacle in government; the firing of the deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge by our president Thabo Mbeki.

Of course he grabbed the opportunity to fire her; his ignorance and stubborn attitude around the AIDS issue has been constantly undermined by her tireless battle for truth and effective policy. Of course it has been an uphill battle for her with maniac Manto at the helm of the department. Of course we will suffer setbacks now that she has lost her position.

But to call her a hero? She went to Spain with her son and a friend on tax payers’ money. It was an unauthorized trip that cost about R200 000. This is not the work of a courageous, honest, tireless fighter. This is a bad thing to do. It is unethical. It is unacceptable.

The absolutely embarrassing thing about this is that those who have made these unethical choices in the past, like our deputy president, whose offense was greater and more costly, were not fired. Even the travelgate MPs got away with a light wrist slap that was virtually a tickle. It’s pathetic.

But. Just because she was the best and only voice of reason about AIDS in government does not cancel out the fact that she did a bad thing, a stupid thing, and ripped us off!