ANC head of peace and stability subcommittee and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has condemned attacks on public protector Thuli Madonsela by party and alliance structures, describing the remarks against her as sexist.
"We may have differences and issues of concern [about the public protector's Nkandla report], but to start judging her [Madonsela] because of her nose, is wrong. This would not have been done to a man with a big tummy. It's sexist to judge a woman by her looks. People must look at the context of the report and challenge her based on that," said Mapisa-Nqakula during the ANC’s breakfast briefing with journalists in Johannesburg on Monday.
Madonsela has been subjected to a range of attacks by ANC and alliance structures prior and after her release of the costly security upgrades at Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
Her two-year investigation on Nkandla found that Zuma and his family benefited improperly from the security upgrades which could end up costing taxpayers as much as R240-million.
Madonsela recommended that Zuma pay back some of the money used for non-security items such as the swimming pool, cattle kraal, paving, amphitheatre and the chicken run.
After Madonsela released her report last Wednesday, ANC Youth League convenor Mzwandile Masina told journalists the league noted her report with "sheer disgust". He accused Madonsela of being biased and sensationalist, saying her office was trying hard to "poison the public against the ANC".
"She isn't competent to speak on issues of security," said Masina, adding that Madonsela thought she was above the law.
'Big, ugly nose'
Congress of South African Students' secretary general Tshiamo Tsotetsi reportedly labelled Madonsela "that woman with the big, ugly nose" at a gathering near Brits.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the ANC could not be seen to be attacking chapter nine institutions including the office of the public protector.
She said she was happy that ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe was acting against the youth league and Cosas.
"The ANC has always fought against any form of sexism. The remarks made [by Cosas and the ANCYL] were sexist. We can't go to town launching personal attacks [against Madonsela] because she is a woman," said Mapisa-Nqakula.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said disparaging remarks against Madonsela were not welcomed in the ANC.
"The secretary general of the ANC [Mantashe] has summoned the ANC Youth League and Cosas to come and explain their insulting remarks. As the ANC, we respect chapter nine institutions, including the public protector. We don't believe any of our structures should insult her [Madonsela]," said Mthembu.