Reducing women to sex symbols for the pleasure of men was an insult to everything the ANC stood for, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said on Tuesday.
“Stripping women and reducing them to sex symbols for the pleasure of men does nothing but entrench stereotypes and reinforce patriarchal behaviour,” Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said in a statement.
The statement followed reports of a pre-opening party of the nightclub ZAR — owned by businessman Kenny Kunene — at the Cape Town Waterfront on Saturday night.
Kunene hosted a similar party in Johannesburg last year, where sushi was served off the scantily-clad bodies of women.
“It is an insult to everything the ANC stands for and Cosatu fully endorses the ANC’s appeal to all those involved in such acts to immediately disengage from them,” said the Cosatu statement.
A photograph from the Cape Town party showed Kunene pouring champagne into the mouth of a bikini-clad woman, who also had pieces of sushi arranged on her stomach.
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema — who also attended the party — was quoted as saying: “[Democratic Alliance leader] Helen Zille will not close ZAR at 2am, like she does other nightclubs in Cape Town. The ANC owns ZAR and we will party until the morning.”
The DA-controlled city recently introduced new liquor by-laws regulating alcohol trading hours.
‘Not into nightclubs or partying’
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe distanced the ruling party from the comments.
“The ANC is not into nightclubs or partying, but is a revolutionary movement,” he said in a statement.
“We furthermore reiterate our condemnation to the act of serving sushi on a woman’s body, as this act is anti-ANC and anti-revolutionary.
“The act is defamatory, insensitive and undermining of woman’s integrity. We therefore appeal to all those involved in this act to immediately disengage from it.”
Craven on Tuesday welcomed the ANC’s stance, admitting it had been concerned by earlier reports its ally was associated with “immorality and the degradation of women”.
He said the ANC’s national general council, held at the end of 2010, said steps had to be taken to deal with the “negative tendencies” threatening to “erode the character, culture and core values of the ANC as a loyal servant of our people and an agent for progressive change in South Africa”.
“That change includes liberating women from the triple oppression they face in their homes, in society and in their workplace. Our country will not be free until women’s dignity is protected by all genuine revolutionaries, who recognise the interlinkages between national, gender and class oppression.”
The league responded to Mantashe’s statement by saying Malema’s comments were meant to show the ANC had made “great strides” in promoting black ownership.
“Contrary to what is reported, the ANCYL president said that the freedom and right for black people to own a club in a predominantly white territory is a freedom and right that came because of the ANC,” the league’s spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said in a statement. – Sapa and Staff reporter