Jimmy Carter says he almost punched Thabo Mbeki
Former president Jimmy Carter told South Africa’s Sunday Times that he almost punched Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, over a disagreement about AIDS. Carter told the Times when he first came to Cape Town, he and Bill Gates Sr., father of billionaire Bill Gates, were trying to convince Mbeki to provide antiretroviral treatment to pregnant women with AIDS during a 2002 visit, but Mbeki refused.
Carter said, “That’s the closest I’ve come to getting into a fist fight with a head of state.”
Mbeki is infamous for his denial that AIDS was caused by a viral infection. Instead, he believed it was caused by poverty, leading him to reject offers of free drugs and grants, according to the Guardian.
A study by Harvard University calculated that Mbeki’s AIDS policies led to the deaths of over 300,000 South African people.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark