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Bathabile Dlamini fails women of SA one last time

2019-06-16 11:02
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. (Photo: GCIS)

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. (Photo: GCIS)

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At no point this week did Bathabile Dlamini seem to take responsibility for anything, besides insisting she was not a drunkard, while on the job. She almost seems unaware of the Constitutional Court's findings against her, writes Tshidi Madia.

ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini has certainly had a field day in the media this week. She stepped down as a member of Parliament, and did so in spectacular fashion: with a 10-page blistering attack on her own party and its government, and how she felt she was treated during her tumultuous tenure as minister of social development.

For the most part, I opted not to engage her letter or interviews. I figured, here is an incompetent administrator, who in her arrogance and refusal to come to the party during the social services saga, risked the paltry sums that the poorest of the poor so desperately lean on from month to month to ease the pain that comes with the high levels of poverty in our country, now suddenly attempting to recreate her image.

During interviews this week she shared her long-winded views about not being given a chance to explain herself before the ANC, accused her colleagues of treason and suddenly saw fit to raise concerns about the state of the governing party's national executive committee (NEC), now that the mighty Dlamini was not reappointed to Cabinet.

At no point did she seem to take responsibility for anything, besides insisting she was not a drunkard, while on the job. Mam' Dlamini almost seems unaware of the Constitutional Court's findings against her over her role in the social grants debacle.

"Reckless and grossly negligent," is what the ConCourt had to say about her failure to fully disclose her role in the saga. She was also found personally liable for some of the legal costs and the head of public prosecutions was asked to consider charging her with perjury for lying under oath.

Yet, she's the victim.

Where I'd normally agree with her, is on the issue of patriarchy and when she cautioned her own political party about becoming a boys' club… but then during these interviews, as she was explaining how committed, wonderful and innocent she is, Dlamini thought it apt to use "rape" as an analogy during an exclusive sitdown with Eyewitness News… and that's where she got me triggered.

Bathabile Dlamini, she of the glorious ANC Women's League, she who is seen as the custodian of women's interests and rights in the governing party, the very same woman who spares no cent as she flies out influencers and celebrities to go and support Cheryl Zondi while she testifies against her alleged rapist… the very same one of the league which stood by the Steenkamps to the bitter end when disgraced Paralympian Oscar Pistorius went to trial for murdering their daughter Reeva?

While I was trying to make sense of this, the 2017 ANC elective conference came to mind; two specific things really. The first, that dismal media briefing Dlamini led following Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's failed bid to lead the party, and secondly, the reaction the late Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela gave journalists when asked about the regression of women in the party as the top 6 went from having two women to only one; Jessie Duarte returning as the deputy secretary general.

Madikizela-Mandela said she was not surprised and blamed the women for failing to work hard enough to have more representation. Dlamini and her cohort failed to answer when journalists asked why they decided to bet on just one female leader and ignore all the others vying for other top posts.

Living in a country where rape is a pandemic, where every day you have to preach "it's not about sex", "it's not about the clothes one wears," or "women and children are under siege," one would hope women would learn that, rape or the analogy of it, in this case, is not the tool or language to use when attempting to politically reposition yourself.

Just like calling black people baboons, using the k-word or calling anyone a cockroach, it's a no-go area. And it's unacceptable to argue that using rape as an analogy was correct as it was as an attempt to shock those listening to her. Just like the courts found her reckless in dealing with Sassa, she once again displayed the very same behaviour.

While complaining about the damning impact of patriarchy on society, in the same breath she enters the fray to do the very same thing.

For many it's a welcome relief, not having to deal with Bathabile Dlamini the minister. To me, it's concerning that she will remain a leading voice for women's interests when it's clear she has little understanding of what that entails.

Suppose it's a case of aluta continua for the South African woman…

- Tshidi Madia is a senior political reporter at News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views.The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

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