Opinionista Sisonke Msimang 28 August 2013

The WTF Party meets Number One

As Women’s Month draws to a close, we catch up with Number One to discuss how he is feeling about the situation of women and girls in South Africa. In a wide-ranging discussion, the President talked about my pant-suit, Vavi's accuser’s knees, Dr. Mamphele and her millions and the spy tapes. He was accompanied by his spokesperson Mac Maharaj, who was there to keep him on track.

Herewith a transcript of our conversation*:

SM: Mr President, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Number One: No problem. Wonderful to meet you. I hope that our discussion demonstrates my commitment to inter-party dialogue. You may not be in Parliament yet, but when you do get there, I would be very happy to show a shapely young woman such as yourself around. Especially if you are wearing that, what do you call that get-up? Is it a pantsuit?

SM: WTF Mr President, don’t you see my tape recorder? This is on the record. Mr Maharaj here agreed to that.

Number One: Of course, of course. In my culture, there is nothing wrong with a man telling a woman that he likes her pantsuit. I didn’t mean to offend you.

SM: It’s not fine and I may be filing charges later, but lets proceed for the moment since we are on the subject of tape recorders. Can you tell me why you are fighting to keep the tapes secret? What are you hiding, Mr President?

Mac: This was supposed to be a conversation about women’s month? Soft issues, right? President Zuma has rights, just like women have rights. Lets talk about rights. This issue is sub judice. If WTF wants to get sued for contempt, then you will see yourself go the way of Zapiro. Do you want to be sitting with court fees for year and years, only to be dropped in the interests of reconciliation once it is clear that our case has no merits? Is that what you really want?

Number One: Now, now Mac, I think this young lady has a right to ask pertinent questions. Hehehe. I think these are complex matters and the young people, indeed, the young women of our country have a right to ask the questions that they ask. Just as I have my rights, including to privacy. What you and I do behind closed doors for example, is nobody’s business. Surely you would agree to that as leader of WTF, as a young, energetic, curvaceous woman? I think we can see eye to eye on this.

SM: No, we can’t. This closed doors stuff is freaking me out. You are aware of the new Gender Equality Bill is designed to stop this kind of behaviour? I trust you will not only sign it into law, but will respect its key tenets. Now, let’s move on. What are your thoughts on the political conspiracy claims that have been made by Mr Vavi?

Number One: Well, in the lingo of your esteemed party, as I have read Mr Vavi’s tweets, I have been asking myself, basically, ‘WTF’? It is clear that Mr Vavi was involved in a highly private matter, which was his right to do. I have been reliably informed that the woman in question was in the habit of showing her knees, and I think we can all agree on what that means.

I have the deepest respect for women, the mothers of our country. I believe in the total advancement and emancipation of our women-folk. But we as grown ups, I think we can agree that a knee is a knee, and two knees, well, two knees are two knees.

Mac: I think the president is saying here that Comrade Vavi’s matter will be dealt with internally by the relevant structures of COSATU, and as a loyal member of the Alliance, the ANC and its President will respect the decisions of said structures. There are no factions, no disagreements and there is certainly no bitterness. We are united in our struggle for the rights of working class people as we seek to make a better life for all, especially those who belong to the broad church that is the ANC. We also have a high regard to all relevant and related appendages.

SM: Can we turn to the issue of elections next year? You will have two female opponents in the race for the Presidency next year. Are you excited by the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Helen Zille and Dr Ramphele?

Number One: Absolutely. I respect them both tremendously. In fact, after Mamphele released her financial information I called to personally commend her for having amassed so much wealth. As you know, I have no companies registered in my name, and no investments. As a loyal cadre I was denied the opportunity to apply my mind to the accumulation of wealth, as I was struggling on behalf of our people.

SM: And what of the argument that Nkandla represents an example of how much you have accumulated since you became president? 

Mac: The President is barred from saying that word, Nkandla. Indeed, even I as a public servant, must tread very carefully here so I would urge you not to open yourself up to the litigation we discussed earlier on another matter. As you know, National Key Points cannot just be discussed in the public domain. Those who insist on naming Key Points, and then raising questions about them, are treading on very dangerous legal territory.

SM: WTF? So just saying the word “Nkandla” is now a crime?

Mac: Only if you don’t have security clearance. I think you know your security status, madam. Now, are we going to talk about women’s emancipation? We only have time for one last question.

SM: Many of our members are concerned about the ability of the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, to carry out her duties. Can you comment on Minister’s Xingwana’s performance? 

Number One: Lulu is doing a wonderful job. This year’s women’s month theme really captures her commitment. She called me many times as she tried to decide on a theme. Together, we came up with, “A Centenary of Working Together towards Sustainable Women Empowerment and Gender Equality.”

We also consulted on WhatsApp many times, late into the night to agree on important events that would take place this month. My favourite event was Young Women in Rail: Ayashosholoza Amakhosikazi. Next to uMshin’ Wam,’ Shosholoza is one of my favourite songs. I intend to sing both at the Heritage Day rally scheduled for next month.

SM: Thanks Mr. President, my lawyers will be in touch. No doubt Mr. Hulley will be counter-suing.

Number One: Thank you very much, young lady. DM

*This is satire. It is entirely made up. Never happened.

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