In his new book, '8000 Days', former Cape Times editor Tony Heard describes his decade in the Presidency as special adviser, and a dozen years elsewhere in government. He interacts with Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, and joins their entourages on two unforgettable visits to the UK. In this extract, Heard describes a remarkable ambush in his office by the eccentric ex-Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.
She bore down on me with a vengeance showing unshakeable belief in a myth of the age.
It was spring 2008. The scene was the Union Buildings in Pretoria, in my office in the West Wing.
The issue was HIV/Aids.
Her name was Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who was married to influential Mendi Msimang, former treasurer-general of the ANC.
This visit meant trouble.
There was a caretaker president in office in South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe, who had previously been minister without portfolio in the Presidency. His career had been more than upwardly mobile.
The president-in-waiting, Jacob Zuma, licking victorious lips, was preparing for what the astute commentator, Max du Preez, was to describe as his "wrecking-ball" role in the nation.
A lesser question had nagged us in the Presidency: who would succeed Motlanthe as the...