ANC must put Mabe on suspension

Pule Mabe.
Pule Mabe.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

As if the upcoming general election wasn't promising to be the most difficult the ANC has fought so far, the party has been rocked by a sexual harassment scandal implicating its national spokesperson, Pule Mabe.

Given how prone to scandal the governing party has been - especially over the past decade -it would be tempting for Luthuli House to treat this as yet another passing controversy that the party would survive without doing much. But they would be making a grave mistake.

The days of sexual harassment issues being treated as if they were trivial are over as society, here at home and abroad, is growing angry with those who abuse their positions of power to force women to perform sexual favours.

In the past few months in our country, we have seen gender equality activists take up highly publicised campaigns against women abuse as well as sexual harassment. The ANC as the governing party and a former liberation movement that, presumably, believes in egalitarianism has always professed to be against women abuse and sexual harassment. Some of its leaders even led campaigns demanding an end to such abominable behaviour by especially men.

How the party reacts to the accusations levelled against Mabe would show just how committed and genuine is the party on the issue. Mabe is not just an average party member, he is the face of the organisation as national spokesperson. It is for this reason that the ANC can ill afford to stick to its old tactic of refusing to act on a member facing serious charges on the basis that he has not yet been found guilty by the country's courts. He is facing a serious charge of hiring a young and unemployed woman as his PA apparently for the sole purpose of sleeping with her.

It is alleged that when it became clear to him that she was never going to give in to his sexual wants, he verbally abused her and her salary was slashed.

Granted, Mabe has denied the allegations and has every right to defend himself. But the governing party needs to send a clear message that it does not condone the exploitation of young women by at least suspending him until the investigation into the matter is concluded.

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