Commission for Gender Equality dismayed at King's utterances on women's leadership abilities

10 February 2017 - 15:53
By Sipho Mabena
Outgoing chair of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma, was in the Eastern Cape to  seek support for the ANC to have a woman president. PHOTO: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI
Outgoing chair of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma, was in the Eastern Cape to seek support for the ANC to have a woman president. PHOTO: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has reacted with “dismay” to the “unfortunate utterances” attributed to AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu that the country was not ready for a woman president.

The King reportedly told a gathering at his Nqadu Great Palace in Willowdale‚ Eastern Cape‚ during former African Union Commission chairwoman Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s visit this week that women were sensitive by nature and that SA was not ready for a woman leader.

King Sigcawu was quoted as saying “The country’s problems have overwhelmed leaders who are men‚ how much more for a woman‚” to the delight of the village men.

The Commission on Friday said the King’s utterances appeared to impugn the integrity and ability of women to serve the country as political leaders.

AmaXhosa king in call for new partyAmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu has backed the formation of a new political party by traditional leaders who accuse the ANC of side-lining them. 

Spokesperson Javu Baloyi said the utterances clearly constituted a violation of some of the basic human rights principles contained in the Constitution‚ including the right to gender equality‚ the right to dignity and the constitutional prohibition against discrimination on the basis of gender.

He said Section 9 (3)(b) of the Constitution provides that “every adult citizen has right to stand for public office and‚ if elected‚ to hold office”.

Baloyi said this right extended to any citizen‚ irrespective of gender.

“The Commission therefore finds it disappointing and unfortunate that a leader in King Sigcawu’s position has to be reminded of his duties and obligations to observe the fundamental freedoms afforded to South Africans as outlined not only in the country’s Constitution‚ but also in numerous domestic laws and policy frameworks‚ as well as in international treaties and conventions that our country’s leaders have ratified‚” he said in a statement.

Baloyi said women still faced obstacles that were entrenched in patriarchal values and practices that continue to underpin and sustain our political system‚ including our traditional leadership structures in communities across the country.

He said the Commission had been conducting a nation-wide programme of engagements with the political‚ religious and traditional leaders in various provinces to educate them about the Constitution and its specific provisions on gender equality and human rights issues.

The Commission‚ “wishes to state categorically its respect for the King as part of our constitutionally recognised system of traditional leadership‚ while at the same time re-committing itself to its current programme of dialogue with various leaders such as King Sigcawu and the others in order to prevent such unfortunate utterances as those recently reported in the media and attributed to the King‚” Baloyi said.


— TMG Digital