'When you're on the side of media, you're on the side of men' – Bathabile Dlamini

Bathabile Dlamini. (Leon Sadiki, Gallo Images, City Press, file)
Bathabile Dlamini. (Leon Sadiki, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

Minister for Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini has gone on the offensive, labelling the media an agent of patriarchy for participating in the "destruction" of women.

Dlamini was speaking during her department's budget vote debate in Parliament on Thursday evening where she outlined her department's goals for the year.

She used the speech to criticise the "barrage of attacks" that strong women leaders, both past and present, have had to endure and for the media's alleged failure to recognise leaders such as the late Albertina Sisulu and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

"Those that are standing are still standing because they have been able to stand for what they believe in. Some have been able to stand without trailblazers or support from the media," she told MPs.

"Sadly, even women journalists are on the side of the media. Unfortunately, when you are on the side of the media, you are on the side of men because they control it."

Dlamini said the media was "patriarchal and mostly owned by white, conservative men" who have always seen themselves as "the best thing that the world ever had".

"This is the institution that has ensured that it destroys women. It is often used as a hammer of patriarchy to destroy every woman that dares raise her head without its permission.

"This institution has historically used its resources to destroy women. Even black and so-called progressive men and institutions that are supposed to be independent and protect the rights of the vulnerable use the storyline and language of the media to take male-serving and masculinist decisions."

'Destructive agenda'

Even conservative men have used the media to "boost their egos" because they know that media was "always on their side", she continued.

"Some have chosen to keep quiet. The media has been able to cushion some that drive a very destructive agenda."

She said some journalists had "decided to be conduits of a destructive propaganda that had no mercy for a gallant fighter like the late comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela".

Her comments received warm applause from some in the public gallery and in the ANC benches.

Dlamini then went on to say the media was not concerned about facts.

"They have sustained themselves through the word 'alleged'. They hang people on allegations to an extent that even the society starts taking the allegation as true. They repeat the storyline until you are persecuted and found guilty in the court of public opinion.

"I do not believe that this is the democracy that uMama [Albertina] Sisulu and uMama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela fought for."

The budget vote debate continued on Thursday.

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