ANC supports Semenya – and avoids hard questions over Chuene
- Branko Brkic
- 05 Oct 2009 03:25 (South Africa)
Kaya FM told Phat Joe to take some home leave for it, Nedbank has pulled its Athletics SA sponsorship over it, and the ANC is pretending to not have influence over the levers of government in its most recent move in the continuing, epic saga of Caster Semenya.
The ANC, plus its youth and women's wings were all at Luthuli House to reiterate their support for Caster Semenya today. They say she has been victimised and subjected to unnecessary public scrutiny, thus denying her basic rights. It's hard to argue with those broad sentiments, but the details of the ANC's plan of action are somewhat less easy to swallow.
The ANC says it wants to ensure Caster is afforded redress, and that she and her family get professional help in order to deal with the implications of the tests. So far so goo. But the three branches of the ruling party also called on South Africa and the entire continent celebrate her victory. As the assembled hacks pointed out right at the conference, the timing on that is perhaps not ideal.
The ANC has put together a task team to handle the fallout over the affair, and it features some heavy hitters: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. It has set up methods for the public to express its support for Semenya (via phone or fax, or through the address firstname.lastname@example.org). So far so good. But the party also thanked the Youth League for its "sterling" support for Semenya so far. It doesn't specifically laud the League's threat to take out Nedbank with extreme prejudice should it fail to reinstate its ASA sponsorship, but the implication is there.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the party has called for anyone involved in the case to be sanctioned. So far so good. But it isn't calling for any specific heads, such as that of the lying head of the ASA. “The various bodies should do the honourable thing, but the ANC cannot dictate what this is,” he said. The subtext here seems to be that the ASA didn't do its job, and that the ANC has thrown up its hands in despair and moved on to other issues.
Nor will the ANC Youth League dictate that its members should move their bank accounts away from Nedbank, it seems. Or maybe it will. In an earlier statement it expressed exactly that intention, but today Secretary General Vuyiswa Tulelo said that was not the idea. Don't bet against it changing that stance again before close of business this week.
One potentially unadulterated good thing to emerge from the mess is the ANC promise to "school, itself and the country in this matter and support others who may find themselves in this position.” Given Semenya's previous comments to an Afrikaans newspaper (that she had to bully her way through school over teasing about her femininity, and was subjected to teachers’ scrutinising her genitalia in the toilets before athletics meets), that education can't come a moment too soon.
By Mark Allix