FM's attack on PP racist and sexist – EFF

Fighters say it is an inexplicable leap to characterize Mkhwebane as an 'enemy of the state'

EFF condemns the Financial Mail's outrightly racist and sexist attack on Public Protector and the person of Adv. Mkhwebane

3 August 2019

The EFF condemns the Financial Mail cover story and headline, which charaterises the Public Protector as, an "enemy of the state". This characterization is cemented, by portraying Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebani's face in dark shades of blue (turquoise), ocher coloured lips, and against a background of multiple purple snakes, to basically exaggerate this image of her as, an "enemy” of the state.

There is nothing wrong with anyone to disagree with the Public Protector, or to believe that she is incompetent, or incapable of executing the duties of her office, based on reading her reports, or on court dismissals of her reports. However, it is an inexplicable leap, to characterize her as an "enemy of the state". Such a title, on the eve of women's month in South Africa, contributes to the general hatred society has against black women.

Enemies of the state are people engaged in high crimes such as treason. The fact that Mkhwebane is investigating the untouchables, and favourite agents of white monopoly capital, and the way in which she executes this duty, does not warrant a pro-white capitalist, white-male edited publication, calling her an enemy of the state, painting her face in turquoise colours, with ocher coloured lips, against a background of multiple purple snakes. In essence, this white-male edited publication seeks to collapse her image with that of a shady, evil looking woman, with reddish lips, on a canvas of multiple purple snakes.

The reddish-black (ocher) looking lips seek to evoke a fire spitting being, like a dragon, but also just like a red ocher is associated with a volcano. Placing her turquoise coloured face with ocher coloured lips, against a canvas of purple looking snakes, evokes images of her thoughts or motivations as driven by an evil serpent. The image of a serpent representing evil is dominant in many religions, not least the dominant Judeo-Christian tradition. The entire fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, was due to a snake who worked with a woman to result in the fall of a man from God's favour.

This is precisely the image Black Women, who dare to speak, or question power, are depicted as everywhere in society: evil serpents and enemies God (the state)- essentially, the Devil. The caricature is in the same family of portrayals as women as witches, snakes or dark forces of evil.

Indeed, a black woman in our country is an enemy of the state (God). No wonder there is so much masculine and patriarchal driven violence and hatred on her, her image, her body, her sexuality, and her intelligence.

In the tropes of this narrative, women, Black Women in particular, should never make mistakes, particularly if such come from questioning the powerful. Their mistakes are exaggerated to achieve so perfect a patriarchal impact of silencing and burying all their voices, that none after them should ever dare to question power, regardless of whether such questioning is done rightly or wrongly.

South Africans must unite in condemnation of such a caricature, against the person of Avd. Mkhebane, because in the end, she is a Black Woman. Many young black women out there, who dream of rising to different positions of power, will be justified to squash such dreams because of what happens to women who make mistakes in questioning power or the powerful. South African media is famous for such a patriarchal silencing, and caricaturing women in these forms: the best case being that of Mama Winnie Mandela during the early 1990s.

It does not matter whether Adv. Mkhwebane is right or wrong, nothing justifies such a hateful characterization of her person: calling her the enemy of the state, portrayed in dark shades of turquoise, with ocher coloured lips, against a backdrop of multiple purple snakes. This must be condemned with the disgust it deserves.

The EFF reiterates its support for the work of the Public Protector. We are radically opposed to a clear political agenda that seeks to remove her from office merely because she is going after those who are powerful and represent the interests of white monopoly capital, like Pravin Gordhan.

We will oppose the entire agenda, even in parliament, where they will seek to remove her from office; it is no longer just about her, it is about black women, their image, and all others, who dare to question power, in particular white monopoly capital power in South Africa. There is no media campaign power that will ever deter us. We have seen this before and we will fight to the end.

Issued by Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, National Spokesperson, EFF, 3 August 2019