THE Sunday Times has challenged Health Minister Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang to prove that its allegations of her being “a drunk
and a thief” are untrue, instead of suppressing the debate over the
validity of these claims, write Chantelle Benjamin and Amy Musgrave in Business Day.

The newspaper is defending itself in a court application by the minister to stop any further comment on her medical records and to force the newspaper to return copies of her records.

It says there are other legal remedies the minister can take to prove that allegations against her are false, including going to court.

The minister, through her spokesman, has denied that she has a drinking problem, calling the allegations “false, malicious, bizarre” and “full of untruths”.

The case has attracted national and even international interest and sparked a debate on whether the Sunday Times went too far by publishing information from Tshabalala-Msimang’s medical records.

The Sunday Times, in its answering affidavit, filed on Tuesday, said the public was entitled to decide whether Tshabalala-Msimang was a suitable health minister and whether her alleged alcohol abuse was affecting decisions she made while in office.

“This is an issue that bears on her fitness for office,” it says.

The affidavit accuses the minister of “hypocrisy” . It says that evidence gathered from various sources indicates that the minister contravened section 96 of the constitution, which governs how cabinet ministers should behave.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.