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By unknown | May 15, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Redi Direko

Redi Direko

Shame on the ANC Youth League. Even the ANC secretary general agrees that they are an embarrassment. And anyone who has spoken to Gwede Mantashe will know that he is very sober and courteous, even when you disagree with him.

It is therefore comforting to know that the ruling party, even while vociferously criticising the DA leader, has distanced itself from the youth league's comments about Helen Zille "sleeping around" and appointing her "boyfriends and concubines".

It is easy to dismiss the league's recent diatribe against the Western Cape premier as childish ranting or the misguided fervency of youth. But to do so is to miss the fundamental point about the different standards and rules by which we assess men and women in our society.

It seems that for some men, disparaging women and vulgarising their identity has become ingrained in their consciousness. It is part of their DNA. They continue to see women as pieces of meat and commodities.

This is not about Zille and the acrimony of party politics. It is a reflection of the socialisation of young men. As far as the youth league is concerned, the premier must have appointed men because she sleeps with them.

What this means is that women are incapable of applying their minds and making decisions, good or bad, without opening their legs.

No wonder there is such a violent expression of male power in the form of rape, abuse and other forms of gender-based subjugation. This social malaise starts with this revolting and sexist attitude.

Unfortunately, the person who uttered this vitriol lacks the gravitas to appreciate the enormity of his words. He has air between his ears.

Instead of advancing a theoretic and plausible critique of Zille's cabinet and her subsequent tirade against President Jacob Zuma, league spokesperson Floyd Shivambo has done what most cowardly men do when they can't argue intelligently - ruin a woman's reputation by labelling her a whore. Effectively, that's what sleeping around means.

The maladroit spokesperson argues that this is not what he meant. When pressed to clarify, this imbecile asserts "sleeping around means sleeping around ... we mean what we say and we say what we mean".

Julius Malema got a raw deal. The king of buffoonery is Shivambo.

Personally, I think Zille was not skillful in answering questions about her cabinet. Instead of giving reasons for her all-male cabinet, she deflected and pointed the finger at the ANC and the president of the republic. If she believes she has picked the best possible team to lead the Western Cape, then she must state this resolutely. After all, we women do not want to be tokens and Zille is right not to appoint women for mere political expediency.

But she must admit that there is something wrong with the make-up of her party if it cannot find able and competent women with in its ranks.

Pointing the finger at President Zuma does not change the fact that the empowerment of women in the DA needs serious attention.

The youth league and many others who have asked questions about this are right to do so and Zille should know that she has a duty to answer this question, particularly in an unequal society such as ours.

Like her male counterparts, Zille will make good and bad decisions during her tenure as premier. When that happens, she needs to be challenged; not on the basis of the arrangement of chromosomes and sexual relations, but on the facts.

We women do not want to be patronised, treated as helpless victims and praised when our actions are not praiseworthy. Our actions and decisions are not virtuous simply because we are female.

If Zille has made a bad move, it is not because she is a woman and it most certainly is not relevant who she sleeps with.

We're tired of the emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping that is so pervasive and hangs like an albatross around our necks. We are bold, assertive and ambitious. Deal with it.


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