Who’d have known? Our straight-laced president Kgalema Motlanthe is a sugar daddy, as revealed in the Sunday Independent. According to the reports Motlanthe (59) will soon be bouncing a bonny babe whose mum is just 24 years old.
According to a group of South Africans we canvassed this week this is no problem.
Meat is meat and a man must eat, it seems. Said Willem Mnisi of Mogale City: “Should Motlanthe die of hunger when there’s a queue of women waiting for him to ask them out?” Apparently not.
There is a growing consensus that we should be French about this whole matter of sex and politics. What politicians do in their beds is their business—unless, of course, the politician is a woman, as the case of former French foreign minister Rachida Datie highlights. The African way appears to be that polygamy is a case of the more, the merrier. As PM Melato, also of Mogale City, said: “Men are generally not happy with one woman —”
Of course, there’s another side to the story. South African men and women have a long history of fighting against this kind of patriarchy, this archaic habit of turning women into blocks of meat to be filleted for a cellphone and a pretty dress. The Constitution explicitly declares us all equal before the law, men and women, black and white.
As Colleen Lowe Morna will argue in our pages next week, progressive leadership cannot be squared with polygamy, even though the Constitution protects traditional institutions.
The right to gender equality is a vital one that has been hard fought for, but it also happens to be a question of life and death.
Transactional sex is driving the rate of HIV infection. Aids has cheated us of a generation of mothers and fathers, leaving a million children orphaned, deprived of the nurturing foundation so essential to a decent life.
Our ruling party knows all this, which is why its education campaign against Aids is waged under the slogan ABC: abstain, be faithful, condomise. It appears that the men who want to be our president do none of these, rendering the billions of rands spent on the campaign pretty damned useless.
Leaders must surely embody the values they espouse and walk their talk. Or what is it but a charade? Sex in politics is all of our business, especially when we need all leaders in our society to nudge us towards behavioural change that will curb the still-growing rate of HIV infection.
At the M&G we like to make like Bob Marley and believe in equal rights, justice and “one love”.
Unfit and improper
If you feel a little like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, desperately clicking her heels together in a bid to return to some kind of recognisable reality, you are not alone.
We now seem to be accelerating down the yellow brick road into a world where utter shamelessness is the principal qualification for high office.
This week we report on the track record of Muzi Mkhize, one of the leading candidates to replace Vusi Pikoli as National Director of Public Prosecutions.
As is now widely known, he admitted to a disciplinary panel of the KwaZulu-Natal Bar that he had been guilty of professional misconduct and paid a R10 000 fine. The details of that case alone cast serious doubt on whether he meets the constitutional test of fitness for a job that demands ethical probity.
He has also admitted, in a sworn affidavit, to being up to his neck in the corrupt schemes that plunged the Land Bank into scandal.
That he should still be an advocate is astonishing, that he should even be mentioned as a candidate for the NDPP defies imagination.
Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe must tell us, and tell us now, that Mkhize will not be offered the job and his colleagues at the Bar should open a fresh investigation into his fitness to practise in the private sector.
Of course there should be no job opening available, Pikoli has amply demonstrated that he is up to the task of prosecution without fear, favour or prejudice. That was not in dispute in Parliament this week as the committee set up to decide his future deliberated for a final day. It was clear in those hearings that the ANC will use its majority to push through a resolution confirming Pikoli’s axing, on the grounds that inattention to national security renders him not fit and proper for the job.
The other candidate whose name is persistently mentioned in connection with the post is former Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi. He may have avoided criminal prosecution, but serious questions persist about his relationships with business people who benefited from state tenders and about his role in ANC legal strategy.
Both men have ties to Zuma and neither is capable of being seen by the public as impartial in any decisions yet to be made about his corruption trial.
Another person who is manifestly not fit and proper for his job, and who enjoys close ties to Zuma’s inner circle, is Cape Judge President John Hlophe, who returned to work this week, unilaterally ending a period of special leave.
Hlophe wants to be chief justice, despite the fact that he still faces potential disciplinary action over his alleged efforts to influence the Constitutional Court in favour of Zuma, and the damage to his reputation caused by a series of conflict of interest scandals and rows over race.
“I am back, and I intend to stay,” he announced to friend and foe alike.
This is not just a bad dream, it is a strategy to hand control of key elements of our constitutional architecture to men who are clearly in the service of the personal and political interests of the new ANC leadership. It must be stopped.