Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge

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Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge News Photo 001016-D-9880W-034.jpg
Madlala-Routledge (left)
Deputy Minister of Health
In office
April 2004 – 8 August 2007
President Thabo Mbeki
Deputy Minister of Defence
In office
1999 – April 2004
Personal details
Born (1952-06-29) 29 June 1952 (age 64)
Political party African National Congress
Spouse(s) Jeremy Routledge
Children 2

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (born 29 June 1952) is a South African politician who was South Africa's Deputy Minister of Defence from 1999 to April 2004 and Deputy Minister of Health from April 2004 to August 2007. President Thabo Mbeki dismissed her from the Cabinet on 8 August 2007, after which she was automatically reduced to her role as a member of parliament (MP) representing the African National Congress.[1] On 25 September 2008, she became Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, serving in that capacity until resigning from Parliament in early May 2009.[2] She has been a member of the South African Communist Party since 1984.[3]

Madlala-Routledge is well known for helping combat AIDS in South Africa, and is considered by many to have resisted government denial of the severity of the epidemic.[4] She was also an opponent of the use of alternative medicine treatments of HIV in place of scientifically tested methods.[5]

She was the Executive Director of Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement. [6]

Personal life[edit]

Madlala-Routledge is married to Jeremy Routledge. They have two sons, Martin and Simon.[7] She resides in Cape Town.

A Quaker and former ANC and SA Communist Party underground operative in KwaZulu Natal, she was one of the four-strong SACP delegation to the Convention for a Democratic SA that negotiated the transition from apartheid.[8]

She also served with Cyril Ramaphosa on the working group that drew up the constitutional framework.[8]

Dismissal as Deputy Minister of Health[edit]

On 8 August 2007 on the eve of National Women's Day, Madlala-Routledge was removed by President Thabo Mbeki as Deputy Minister of Health.[9][10] There was some speculation as to the specific reason of her dismissal at the time, given certain speculative elements:

  • The long-term disharmony and disagreement on HIV/AIDS and other issues between herself and the Minister of Health (Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang);[11]
  • Her findings supporting a damning report by the Daily Dispatch on the conditions of the maternity ward at Frere Hospital, which were contradicted by Tshabalala-Msimang[12] and president Mbeki;[13]
  • A trip she had made to an AIDS conference in Spain, which was referred to president Mbeki for pre-approval, which was declined after she had left.[14]
  • In December 2006, eight months prior to her retrenchment, she described "denial at the very highest levels" over AIDS.[15]

However a press release by the presidency didn't cite any reason for her dismissal.[9] According to the presidency, the president is not obliged to give a reason for sacking a minister;[16] however, it was later revealed in a press conference by Madlala-Routledge that the president had called a meeting asking for her to resign citing the unauthorised trip to an international AIDS conference in Spain. Madlala-Routledge declined to resign and the next day she was officially dismissed.[17]

Background of dismissal[edit]

Clashes with the Health Minister over HIV/AIDS[edit]

The dismissal had come after a long period of repeated public clashes with the Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang over national HIV/AIDS policy.[18]

Conflicting reports over Frere Hospital[edit]

The two ministers had also released conflicting reports over the conditions of the maternity ward at Frere hospital, in the Eastern Cape province. Madlala-Routledge had reported that conditions at the maternity ward were a 'national disaster'. This was contradicted by Msimang, who reported that her deputy's comments were based on 'untruths', that the mortality rate at the hospital had been exaggerated, and that the infant death rates were 'in line with the national average'.[11]

These events were preceded by an exposé in the Daily Dispatch newspaper over the allegedly appalling conditions at the hospital.[citation needed] Madlala-Routledge first paid a visit to the hospital, which had not been scheduled nor communicated to the hospital, and after her report, Msimang subsequently paid a scheduled and announced visit to the hospital.[citation needed] Finally, writing in his weekly column, president Thabo Mbeki had defended Msimang's report on Frere Hospital and downplayed the Daily Dispatch's investigations as inflammatory, effectively dismissing the deputy minister's views.[19]

'Unauthorised' trip to AIDS conference in Spain[edit]

Madlala-Routledge travelled to an international AIDS conference in Spain, which had received approval from the necessary departments but had been forwarded to the President for approval and thus, Presidential approval had not been granted at the time she made the trip.[14] Ultimately, President Mbeki declined authorisation of the trip, which happened when she was already en route to Spain. Upon arrival, and being informed of the declination, Madlala-Routledge cancelled her visit to the conference and travelled home immediately.[citation needed]

In a press conference after her dismissal, Madlala-Routledge stated that it is common for ministers to travel without receiving an approval answer from the presidency because ministers often leave at such short notice.[citation needed]

Political career following dismissal[edit]

In December 2007, she was elected to the ANC's National Executive Committee in 33rd place.[20] In April 2014 she launched the "Vote No" campaign alongside fellow ANC member and former government minister Ronnie Kasrils. The campaign aimed to encourage people to cast protest votes or spoilt ballots in the 2014 general election as a protest against Jacob Zuma and the perceived corruption of his government.[21]


  1. ^ Department of Health profile on Madlala-Routledge retrieved 10 August 2007
  2. ^ "The familiar faces now absent from Parliament", Sapa (IOL), 6 May 2009.
  3. ^ Profile on Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge retrieved 13 August 2007
  4. ^ Sharon LaFraniere (10 August 2007). "S. Africa Fires Official Praised for Anti-AIDS Work". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  5. ^ "S.African minister sees AIDS row link to sacking". Reuters. 10 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  6. ^ . 2016-03-18 Retrieved 2016-09-09.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge retrieved 12 August 2007
  8. ^ a b Sacked deputy happily back where she began
  9. ^ a b President Mbeki relieves Deputy Minister of Health, retrieved 10 August 2007
  10. ^ President Mbeki sacks deputy health minister retrieved 10 August 2007
  11. ^ a b Mbeki to look at relations between Manto, deputy retrieved 10 August 2007 Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Union accuses minister of downplaying baby deaths, retrieved 10 August 2007 Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Letter from the president, Volume 7, No. 29, accessed 10 August 2007
  14. ^ a b Deputy health minister defies Mbeki retrieved 10 August 2007
  15. ^ "African Minister Ends Decade of Denial over AIDS", from The Daily Telegraph. Published online 12 November 2006. Accessed 5 March 2007.
  16. ^ Presidency and statements of the former Deputy Minister of Health The Presidency, retrieved 10 August 2007
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Letter from the presidency, Volume 7, No. 29, accessed 10 August 2007
  20. ^ Brendan Boyle, "Winnie Mandela tops ANC election list", The Times (South Africa), 21 December 2007.
  21. ^ Pillay, Verashni (15 April 2014). "'Vote No', say ANC veterans at campaign launch". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 

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