ALLEGED "SEXIST" REMARKS AGAINST DA'S MAZIBUKO
13 June 2013
The Office of the ANC Chief Whip has noted the media statement by the Deputy Chief Whip of the DA, regarding her intention to write to ANC Chief Whip Dr Motshekga to complain about what she describes as "sexists and chauvinistic" attacks in the House against DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko by ANC MPs Buti Manamela and John Jeffery. Comrade Jeffery is alleged to have said "...while the Hon Mazibuko may be a person of substantial weight, her stature is questionable". Manamela is alleged to have questioned her sense of fashion during yesterday's debate.
We are aware that a point of order has been recorded against Comrade Jeffery's remark and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly is scheduled to rule on whether it was parliamentary or not.
We understand from Jeffery's' explanation that although his reference to Mazibuko during the debate on the Parliament budget vote was a pun, it had more to do with her influence and power associated with the position she holds than her physical weight. Jeffery has carefully reflected on the ambiguity of the statement and accepts that they it may have been understood to refer to Mazibuko's physical outlook.
In this regard, he will unconditionally withdraw the statement when the presiding officer gives him an opportunity to do so in the House and apologise to Mazibuko. We commend him for this voluntary decision. Having dedicated his life to the struggle for non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa, Jeffery finds the claim that his remarks were intended to be sexist and chauvinistic insulting and mischievous. The same pun could have been directed at even a male in similar position as Mazibuko.
Similarly, we reject the claim that Manamela's reference to Mazibuko's dress style at yesterday's debate on the presidency budget vote was sexist or chauvinistic. The Multiparty Chief Whips Forum earlier this year emphasised the importance of Members of Parliament, whether male of female, dressing in a manner befitting of the decorum of the House.
We have no desire of playing fashion police in this institution, however, the inappropriate manner in which Mazibuko was dressed yesterday showed total lack of respect to the debate and the decorum of the House. As the leader of the opposition, Mazibuko ought to lead by example in ensuring that her MPs conduct themselves decently and civilly in this institution. There is nothing "sexist" or "chauvinistic" about this principle.
We are pleased that Jeffery is intending to voluntary withdraw his remarks against Mazibuko. We challenge the DA to equally show its commitment to the rules of orderly and civil parliamentary engagement by calling on its leaders in the Western Cape legislature to withdraw their abusive, offensive and sexist language against ANC MPLs.
In March this year, Western Cape premier Helen Zille referred to ANC MPL Zodwa Magwaza as an "elephant" while former DA leader Theuns Botha once likened ANC MPL Lynne Brown to a "hippopotamus". Both these DA leaders are yet to withdraw and apologise their remarks. The DA's outcry rings hallow considering its deafening silence when such abuses were directed at ANC MPLs by its representatives in the legislature.
We remain firm in our stance that robust and lively debates, which are the cornerstone of a democratic parliament, should always be conducted civilly and orderly.
Statement issued by the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, June 13 2013
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