A small, unknown political party should be causing a stir in Parliament for homophobic and sexist statements, but it has been allowed to get away with it scot-free.
The African Independent Congress’ deputy president, Lulama Ntshayisa, is one of three of the party’s MPs, and the most vocal. He regularly participates in parliamentary debates and delivers an assortment of politically incorrect speeches, but no one dares to challenge him in the National Assembly.
This week, while taking part in a debate about women, he said women had lots of leadership qualities and courage, which they should use to fight rape, among other things.
“Women in particular should fight abuse by men and other women, of course. They should fight rape together. They should no longer be crying babies; we should no longer talk of ‘no woman, no cry’ now.
“Women are neither leading from the front nor from behind, but are now at a strategic position – in the middle – whereby they can reach each and everyone. These people can lead, manage and give proper guidance.”
In May, during an Africa Day debate in the National Assembly, Ntshayisa said: “Our present leadership must not be seen as compromising the values and cultures of African people … the African Independent Congress believes that a law like the Civil Union Act of 2006, which allows marriage between people of the same sex, really undermines African culture and humanity.
“It is unnatural because only females can bear children for nine months and breastfeed them,” he added.
While MPs are quick to jump up and object to each other’s speeches and political statements, not one has objected to Ntshayisa’s views.
In an interview with City Press on Friday, Ntshayisa did not back down. He reiterated his remarks that women should not “be just like crying babies, but should defend themselves”.
“There should be an inward man in you being a woman. That man inside you should be a man,” said Ntshayisa.
He criticised women for “simply giving in” to their rapists without putting up much of a fight.
“You know men are cowards. Once you begin to fight or threaten a man, he will run away. Being a woman, I can’t be raped by one man. How does it happen?
“But you simply give in as women; you simply give in and say, ‘No, there is nothing I can do.’”
Spokesperson for the ANC caucus Moloto Mothapo admitted Parliament was “generally sleeping” when it came to defending women who were being ridiculed and humiliated by male MPs.
“For instance, there are EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters] MPs who refer to female MPs as ‘mistress’ or ‘ginger’, and this is hugely sexist and demeaning,” he said.
“It shows the kind of society we live in, where women are ridiculed because of the colour of their hair.”
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen pleaded ignorance when asked why his party never objected to sexist and homophobic comments.
“I have never heard any of that,” he said, adding that he would have complained or raised the matter in the chief whips’ forum had he heard the statements.
The African Independent Congress originated in Matatiele, where it was formed with the sole purpose of objecting to the demarcation of borders, which saw Matatiele falling under the Eastern Cape instead of KwaZulu-Natal.
Despite only having 8 000 members, the party received almost 98 000 votes in the May 2014 general elections, which gave it three seats in the National Assembly.