Zuma warned to mind his language

2015-01-18 15:00

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The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has warned President Jacob Zuma to choose his words carefully when he talks about women.

Die Burger reports that the CGE has just completed a two-year investigation into a complaint of sexism against Zuma, lodged by the DA.

The opposition party complained in 2012 after Zuma said women must marry and have children.

Now the CGE has finished its investigation and handed its report and findings over to the president, Beeld reported in its Saturday edition.

Though the report has not been made public, Mfanozelwe Shozi, the commission’s chairperson, shared the findings with City Press’ sister publication Die Burger on Friday.

Shozi said the commission could not find Zuma guilty because of a lack of information about the context of his comments, but he was rapped over the knuckles and given a serious warning.

The CGE has also requested a meeting with the president so that the commission can explain to him why his comments were wrong and warn him not to offend women again.

“We warned him to be more careful in future,” Shozi said.

In August 2012 Zuma told TV personality Dali Tambo during an interview that he was very happy about his daughter Duduzile’s marriage.

“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,” Zuma told Tambo.

Women’s rights groups said the commission’s findings were disappointing and did not send a strong enough message.

Colleen Lowe Morna, executive director of Gender Links, said that with or without a context there was no doubt what Zuma meant.

“It looks as if the commission followed a hush-hush approach. We understand Zuma comes from a certain culture and generation, but in the end he is the president and he must adhere closely to the values of the Constitution,” Morna said.

“The finding does not send out a strong enough message – I think the president should apologise.”

Zuma apologised in 2006 after he had said Zulus must guard against homosexuality and added: “When I grew up ungqingili [a gay man] would never have stood in front of me. I would have knocked him down.”

Morna said this time Zuma owed women an apology, too.

Lisa Vetten, a campaigner for women’s rights, said the question was whether Zuma would take the recommendations seriously.

“If he ignores them, as he did with the Public Protector’s recommendations on Nkandla, it will speak volumes.”

At the time of going to press Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, could not say whether the president was prepared to meet the commission.

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