Editorial: Spitting on women

It’s a pity that our politicians only start talking about gender-based violence when it is part of a power game and after one of their own is implicated.

We have seen friends and foes of Marius Fransman quickly organise themselves into the appropriate camp regarding the allegations made by a young woman that she was sexually assaulted by the ANC’s Western Cape chairperson en route to the ANC’s 104th birthday celebrations in Rustenburg.

The main thrust of those in the ANC talking both on and off the record has been either to defend Fransman blindly or to use the allegation as ammunition for political point-scoring. Then there are those who cop out and prefer to stay mum while letting “justice take its course”, or claim that women having sex for a fee with ANC leaders is the norm, as two senior ANC leaders told the Sowetan this week. What happened to Fransman was “unfortunate and it smells more like a honey trap”, one deputy minister airily told the newspaper.

God forbid that our politicians actually tackle the persistent rape culture in our country – and in their own parties. Reporting on the details of the case against Fransman, City Press learnt from several senior sources that enormous pressure was placed on the woman to drop the charges.

This echoes the experience of Nomawele Njongo, who successfully brought the ANC’s chief whip, Mbulelo Goniwe, to book for sexual harassment in 2006. Writing on Facebook following the latest allegations involving Fransman, Njongo said: “I had death threats. I had bribery moments and I had people, women in particular, who mobilised against me … I went through exclusion from deployment and getting no promotion.”

The worst part? When Njongo’s comments were put to the ANC spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, by the Sowetan, he refused to comment. This is a man willing to ban a journalist from all ANC events for using the term “pantypreneur”. The term was problematic, but Kodwa’s sudden ardour for women’s rights seems to have evaporated when it is most needed.

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