Motshekga: We all say dumb things, Zuma is only human

Angie Motshekga says that President Jacob Zuma's comments on women 'should not be a reflection of how he treats women'. (Opua Nkosi, M&G)

Angie Motshekga says that President Jacob Zuma's comments on women 'should not be a reflection of how he treats women'. (Opua Nkosi, M&G)

ANC Women’s League president and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said people should not be so sensitive over comments about women, Beeld reported on Monday.

Responding to the Commission for Gender Equality’s findings after a complaint of sexism was lodged against President Jacob Zuma in 2012, ANC Women’s League president and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said: “If President Jacob Zuma says young women must marry and other things, let’s not make a big thing out of it.”

She thought a warning was enough for Zuma. “He is only a human being. He may be the president, but we all say dumb things. He is just a human being and it should not be a reflection of how he treats women, because women like me who work with him know he has absolute respect for us. I truly feel the president treats us with respect,” she said.

The commission received a complaint in August 2012 from the Democratic Alliance (DA) about Zuma’s remarks, made during a wide-ranging interview with television personality Dali Tambo in his TV series, People of the South

Speaking about his daughter Duduzile’s marriage to Lonwabo Sambudla, Zuma said he was happy for her.

“I was also happy because I wouldn’t want to stay with daughters who are not getting married, because that in itself is a problem in society. I know that people today think being single is nice. It’s actually not right. That’s a distortion.

“You’ve got to have kids. Kids are important to a woman because they actually give an extra training to a woman, to be a mother,” he said. Zuma had also said it was a problem that people preferred to remain single. 

The DA said Zuma’s utterances were sexist and, by implication, unconstitutional.

Motshekga, herself married, said women had a choice over how they lived their lives, but should not be over-sensitive. She did not think there was anything wrong with talking about the joys of marriage and children, but would not put women under pressure.

‘Grossly’ out of context
Speaking to the Mail & Guardian at the time that the complaint was made, the Women’s League said that the comments were taken “grossly” out of context by the media and commentators.  

“If you look at the statements made by the president in the context of the interview it seems clear to me that he is talking about his aspirations for his own daughters,” said then spokesperson for the league, Troy Martens. “Like I’m sure most parents, he wants to see his children happily married and have grandchildren.”

Zuma was found not guilty due a lack of context on the comments – but told to watch his words in future.

Zuma is known for his traditional views that are often at odds with South Africa’s progressive Constitution – and with more liberal South Africans.

In September 2006 he was compelled to apologise for a homophobic statement. Comments made during his rape trial in 2006 – for which he was later acquitted – also angered gender activists. – Sapa, Staff reporter

 

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