“The problem with having a sense of humor is often that people you use it on aren’t in a very good mood.” I’ve forgotten who said that but that was the case with Mr President during weekend. A happy Zuma, with his wife Tobeka Madiba Zuma and their 8-year-old daughter, Nqobile approached Ntolwane Primary School in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal to check for his name on the voters’ roll.
There, Zuma teased female journalists saying that if things were the way they were in the past, his bodyguards would compliment the journalists. “But when men compliment you innocently, you say it’s harassment. You will miss out on good men and marriage,” Mr president added and laughed.
“It’s a pity we live in a white man’s world,” our president went on. “You can’t even say ‘Gqezu, Gqezu ntomazane! Nongenazo izinkomo uyayidla inyama‘.
The Zulu words from Zuma says “even if you don’t have enough money to pay lobola, you can still get married.”
It’s almost certain that the president didn’t intend any harm with his remarks, he has however been lashed for undermining the sexual violence against women in the country with his joke.
First, Nonhlanhla Skosana the spokesperson of Sonke Gender Justice (a non-partisan, non-profit organisation, that works for just, democratic societies and equitable, healthy relationships between men, women and young people) stated that “the president is really undermining the laws of this country that seek to protect the citizens of this country and deal with sexual violence against women and children.”
To Skosana, Zuma ought to have been a bit sensitive in his remarks as South Africa is “rated the highest in the world in terms of sexual violence against women and children.” Zuma “saying such words in front of the child, his young daughter…shows disrespect to older and younger women,” Skosana opined.
Likewise, the Democratic Alliance (DA) indicated that they will report the President’s comments to the South African Human Rights Commission, and as well, write to the President and the ANC Women’s League President – Bathabile Dlamini and ask that an apology be issued to the women of South Africa.
Adding that President Zuma’s comments are “outrageously sexist and an insult to every single woman in our country, especially those who are survivors of violence and sexual abuse,” DA highlighted that “it is precisely this patriarchal attitude that allows for women to remain the subjects of high levels of violence and sexual abuse throughout” South Africa.
“It is this sort of thinking that keeps women locked out of the economy, and out of jobs that could bring a much-needed income to their family,” the DA wailed.