DA MP Cachalia defends his record after being criticised for 'homophobic' tweet

2019-05-22 19:17
Ghaleb Cachalia. (Ahmed Ahreff, News24)

Ghaleb Cachalia. (Ahmed Ahreff, News24)

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DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia has defended himself after being accused of homophobia for a tweet directed at Radio702 talk show host Eusebius McKaiser.

McKaiser this week criticised Cachalia in an open letter titled "South African homophobia goes to Parliament", following a backlash against Cachalia on social media over the weekend.

The spat started with a tweet from Gwen Ngwenya, the DA's former head of policy (who recently declined a seat in Parliament), where she stated that "Eusebius McKaiser has again referred to me as a right-winger on his show".

Cachalia, responding to Ngwenya, said, "I have it on reliable authority that he [McKaiser] applied to be a DA MP. Nothing quite like a woman scorned…"

The latter part of the tweet was considered by many to be homophobic.

McKaiser, who is openly gay, said the tweet was problematic.

'Old well of insults'

"Cachalia's comments then- and his subsequent defence of them - are a particularly sharp departure from the liberal ideal at (the) heart of the DA's political ideology," he said in the letter.

"The notion that I am a woman, or like a woman does not, in itself, offend me. How could it? I am very happy to be compared to women because women rock.

"Any group that has endured an ongoing global history of misogyny and has continued to survive and thrive is resilient and excellent. I should be so lucky to be compared to women, "scorned" or not.

"So the mere comparison with women isn't a problem. What is problematic is the purpose of the slur in terms of its socio-linguistic and political history. That matters. Cachalia is instinctively drawing from the old well of insults that aim to mock gay men by feminising them."

'False narrative'

Cachalia, in his response to McKaiser called "Good for the Goose... Good for the Gander", denied he was homophobic.

"My response aimed to place in perspective McKaiser's amimus towards Ngwenya and the DA, based on his unsuccessful attempt to parachute himself into politics as a DA MP, which he has not conveniently not countered. The phrase 'a woman scorned' has universal currency, and is adapted from a line in the play by an English author of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries."

He claimed that since their initial meeting at the Ruth First Memorial lecture at Wits - an event that Cachalia would, thereafter, pan in an article - that "Mckaiser took massive umbrage at my temerity to confront this identitarian wokeness (which defines him), and ever since has nursed an animus".

He said he took exception to being vilified, cyber bullied, defamed and accused of homophobia and misogyny, and reserved his rights.

"Anyone who knows me will be aware of my track record that stands up for gay rights, and that condemns the actions of countries that have abhorrent laws discriminating against LGBQTI people across the globe, and like radio broadcaster and commentator, Roman Cabanac, who happens to be gay, many disavow this false narrative."

Cachalia slammed

Brett Herron, Secretary-General of the GOOD party and former DA member, responded to Cachalia's tweet by saying "is the "woman scorned" comment about @Eusebius sexuality? Do you view gay men as female? Your tweet is loaded with layers of prejudice. It's shocking, homophobic and misogynistic."

Renowned journalist and author, Redi Thlabi, added her voice to the debate saying "...Gay men are MEN, not women..."

Cachalia responded that "of course, gay men are men. Of course, I have agency. I agreed with the comment. It's old as the hills and rooted in literature. And it need not be gender specific. Anyway, I reckon it's apt."

Roman Cabanac, podcast host and co-founder of South Africa Capitalist Party (ZACP), attempted to dispel any idea that Cachalia is homophobic.

Veteran journalist and editor, Ferial Haffajee posted McKaiser's response adding that "Hell hath no fury as the woman scorned is kinda Victorian-era sexism and belief system, Ghaleb".

When approached for further comment, including Cachalia's claims about an application to be an MP, McKaiser said, "everything I have to say on the matter is in the article I wrote for Africa Is A Country".

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen on Tuesday said Cachalia would be subjected to an internal process for the tweet.

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Read more on:    da  |  ghaleb cachalia  |  eusebius mckaiser
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