The world is presently gripped by a necessary social media campaign simply called #MeToo.
#MeToo is an empowerment product against sexual abuse, sexual harassment, gender bias and patriarchy. Women are finding their voice and are crying out loudly, displaying the shame of all males in the world.
I am one of the most fallable of man with my own gravely regrettable past in my own personal life – a past I forever see in my partner’s eyes no matter how much I try to think I do not see it. After my many mistakes, I have stood for public office and got elected or nominated several times. I have been elevated to high office of which I remain humbled and thankful. In all these times, no one has ever thrown aspersions on my leadership abilities because of the misdeeds and mistakes of my private life.
I have won and lost elections; on the losses, not once was it ever said I am losing because of what occurred in my bedroom or because of who I am married to. This is because of male privilege.
From our icon, President Nelson Mandela, to Bill Clinton and now Donald Trump too, none of these men were thoroughly shamed about their private personal lives. Bill Clinton moved on from the Monica Lewinsky affair to be one of the richest and most influential post-office presidents in the world.
My heart sank when I read Mr Trevor Ncube’s tweet. The erstwhile publisher of Mail & Guardian posted an offer to “run a competition on the names of men that have slept with Mrs Grace Mugabe” – a slight and an attack on a woman just as we end 16 Days of Activism Against Women Abuse.
Mr Ncube decided that as an adult powerful and influential man, he would slut-shame a woman to make a political point about her.
Mr Ncube ordained himself a moral policeman of Mrs Mugabe’s bedroom and made damaging accusations typical of an arrogant man. Ncube cast a scarlet letter on this woman due to the political differences between them and believes he shamed and destroyed her. Indeed, to many, she is now guilty and is a sinner that must not be regarded human – that was the intention, to dehumanise her and humiliate her as a woman.
Women in our world and in particular in Africa continue to suffer from patriarchy, which is inherently a mindset that males own women as they own property. Often, in my current line function, we see many of our women being treated like worthless possessions whose bodies, privacy, human rights and dignity can be given and taken at any moment by us males. Mr Ncube did just that.
In its formation in 1912, the African National Congress wanted to confront many ills, which included Africans claiming their dignity as a people; this dignity’s cornerstone was the full emancipation of women and the crushing of tribalism, which had ravaged our Africa. In this 54th ANC National Conference we as a nation are once again facing a pivotal moment in our history as conference beckons this weekend.
We faced similar history-making moments before such as the militancy introduced by the ANC youth leaders in the 1940s; the formation of the ANC Women’s League, and the acceptance of women as full ANC members to the Youth League and Umkhonto WeSizwe formations.
In 1941, President Dr AB Xuma declared, “…the African National Congress is the mouthpiece of the African people of the Union of South Africa. All its efforts are and must be concentrated upon raising the status of the African people from their semi-serfdom to citizenship”. Surely this declaration was not for males only.
Patriarchy, chauvinism and gender equality remain among the top urgencies of the National Democratic Revolution. Our freedom is not complete without the full emancipation of our women, black and white.
The 54th National Conference is confronted with deep introspection as to whether the majority of our people feel and are freed from semi-serfdom to full citizenship enjoying all socio-political and socio-economic rights in the land of their forefathers.
The emancipation of women is a present and urgent challenge the ANC must address; with this come the factors of ownership of land and capital, artisanal skills and free education which should be financed through a special corporate tax in a form of the current skills levy.
Our women have taken to the frontlines of our struggle for liberation but remain under the yoke of unrepentant patriarchy. The contribution of our women to the struggle is weaved in Madie Hall Xuma, the first president of the ANCWL elected in 1943 to 1955 when Mama Lillian Ngoyi became the first ever female to be elected into the ANC NEC, which was effectively an all men’s club; in the brave Women’s March of August 9, 1956, the first ever female anti-apartheid activist to be charged under Terrorism Act was Mama Dorothy Nyembe in 1969. It is time we ask what our country has done for our women and why we must insist that patriarchy is anti-National Democratic Revolution.
We have in our hands an opportunity to elect our first ever female president general in the ANC. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is not only a formidable self-enriched stalwart of our great movement, in her we have the bravery of amabutho (regiment). She displayed her bravery, courage, foresight and wisdom when she confronted the tobacco monopoly cartels for the sake of our people’s health.
In our entire history as a country, there has never been any other human being more qualified for the position of president of the ANC and indeed South Africa.
Mama Nkosazana has the most international diplomatic experience in our country matched only by president Oliver Tambo. Her multilateral organisational exposure is unparalleled. Her bravery to confront most of Africa’s warlords and the bullying western powers is known to all. At the AU, during her time, a coup d’état was a coup d’état whether it occurred in Egypt or elsewhere.
In 2007, many forget that former president Mbeki vied for a third term as president of the ANC with Mama Nkosazana as deputy presidential candidate at the Polokwane Conference. At the time, her competition was Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe.
Mama has always been and remains her own woman. She is no mortgaged soul and has not developed any emotional bonds with the white capitalist class in South Africa. She owes no one her salt and pepper. Her bread remains her sweat and struggle and less about access to power. Her parliamentary declarations of assets clearly tell a tale of a woman steadfastly rooted among her people no matter what.
Her contribution to the health of our people remains unsung. This contribution led to a significant reduction in deaths by cigarettes, easing the fiscal pressure from diseases.
Mama Nkosazana also started the fight against over-priced HIV/Aids medication and her performance as Foreign Affairs Minister saw South Africa being labelled “an above its weight puncher”. She has got this, not now but since her time as a student leader before being hounded out of her country of birth by the apartheid government.
With all that, Africa Vision 2063 and more, we are still told that Mama Nkosazana is disqualified by a former marriage to President Jacob Zuma.
All her credentials are wiped clean and the media and opponents say her election means President Zuma will control the ANC, an insult to this formidable heroine of our struggle. It comes easy to people to reduce Mama as a pawn of President Zuma.
Clearly, we must accept that white capital and the upper middle class in the most dislike or hate President Zuma; however, what is shocking to us is to hear some among us including women Zuma-shaming Mama Nkosazana as though she has something to be ashamed of. Whatever sins her former husband and my president may have in one’s personal estimation, surely those sins cannot be transferable to this great heroine of two solid generations.
Indeed, Hillary Clinton herself experienced a shocking public shame over President Clinton in her 2015 campaign when candidate Donald Trump re-tweeted a Texas college student’s tweet: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
This is exactly what fellow comrades, the business sector and some in the middle class are doing to their own comrade, Comrade Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
I am not able to understand how my wife would ever have to carry any sins the public cast upon me. The rub here is that this is only reserved for women and men do not get to carry their wives sins, if any. This talks to patriarchy and how it has perverted our psyche and culture.
We call on all women of the world and in particular Africa to rise and confront patriarchy and male chauvinism. We call on all ANC members to realise this timeous opportunity to break the ANC ceiling, which has rendered women “the led”. Here is a solid leader ready to deliver the final chapter of the National Democratic Revolution.
What confronts this conference are fundamental political questions anchored on who exactly is the governing class of South Africa. Who is the ruling class of our two-decades-old nation?
Is the African National Congress’s management of state power equating to government by the people? Where does effective key economic power lie? The answer is that it lies with white men and a few black Randlords who have emerged due to access to the state or capitalist class.
We must accept as a common fact that the real economy to the tune of up to 75% is in the hands of the white capitalist class and they have sought to direct how political power functions. We know their friends within our glorious movement. The essence of this is a very powerful shareholder citizen with overbearing veto power, which is exercised via friends in our movement.
Not only is the capitalist class wielding enormous indirect power over political power, they also control the minds and ways of the people as a whole via the ever less pluralist media. Mr Ncube of Mail & Guardian has decided to sell his shares there to an American NGO a.k.a. foreign power influence. Control of influential media, book publishers, radio talk shows, intellectual research and activism and civil society agenda are all in their bosom of control.
We call on men in the ANC to do the right thing and free our women once and for all – we call on all men in South Africa to embrace this history-making moment of our young democracy.
As a father to two beautiful daughters, I want to see them grow with the truth that they too can. #SheIsWorthy! DM
"Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth" ~ Aristotle
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