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Government Has A Sorry History Of Protecting Abusive Men – And Manana Is No Different

The chasm between what government says and does is demonstrated by Manana’s work on gender violence on university campuses.
21/08/2017 15:19 SAST
Lisa Vetten PhD Fellow at Wits University

 

A distinctive feature of South Africa’s democracy is the way it has sought to make the state a vehicle for women’s advancement. No clearer expression of this goal exists than Nelson Mandela’s very first State Of The Nation Address in May 1994:

“It is vitally important that all structures of Government, including the President himself, should understand this fully: that freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.”

Mduduzi Manana’s assault of Mandisa Duma, and the conflicted state responses it produced, only underscore the distance between that ideal and present realities.

In his capacity as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana had been leading dialogues around gender-based violence with university and college students. Yet his violent actions at the Cubana Club point to a significant disconnect between his public utterances about masculinity and violence, and his private conduct.

Indeed, it speaks volumes about the importance of gender in the greater political scheme of things that Manana’s suitability for this role was not assessed carefully beforehand –- especially in light of the mistreatment, his female staff have alleged.

Between 1998 and 2001 Mthimunye repeatedly harassed Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela, a municipal clerk employed by the Dr JS Moroka Municipality.

Manana is one of a minuscule minority of senior political leaders to resign as a result of his abusive conduct, but it seems that he too, like Marius Fransman and Mbulelo Goniwe had to be pushed before he went. All three men must count themselves unlucky in comparison to George Mthimunye though.

Between 1998 and 2001 Mthimunye repeatedly harassed Esther Mahlangu-Mathibela, a municipal clerk employed by the Dr JS Moroka Municipality. Her refusal of his demands for sex led to the denial of job opportunities and the institution of disciplinary proceedings against her –- averted only by an urgent court interdict.

Eventually, deprived of her work and avoided by her colleagues, she spent her days sitting in the municipality’s kitchen. In 2012 the Pretoria High Court awarded her damages of R1.3 million. The council, however, saw no reason to pay Ms Mathibela-Mahlangu and it was only after the sheriff arrived, locked the gates and began attacking the mayor’s vehicles, that the council made its first grudging payment in 2013.

George Mthimunye, by contrast, prospered during this period. He successfully sued Naspers in 2007 for, amongst other things, describing him as ‘lecherous’ –- a word that left him feeling ‘shocked’, ‘hurt’ and ‘confused’ –- and went to work for the Emalahleni municipality. He was suspended in 2013 and the council placed him under section 139 administration.

Still, George did not stumble and in 2014 he was awarded the position of executive manager of corporate services in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature. Some months later he was elevated to the National Council of Provinces where he remains, untroubled by his conscience or the inconvenience of public opinion.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma falls into the category of those who protect exploitative men.

That George could do so illustrates the political protection he was afforded. In the case of Mduduzi Manana, it is Bathabile Dlamini, Minister of Social Development and president of the ANC Women’s League, who largely attempted to play this protective role.

Hinting darkly at a political plot, she asserted that there were other men in the ANC who had committed far worse than Manana and that singling him out for disgrace was mere political factionalism.

Dlamini did not, however, consider it her duty to reveal who these men are and so it was left to Julius Malema to decipher her coded reference. In a radio interview, he suggested that Dlamini’s claim represented the first seed of a smear campaign against presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa.

This was intended to portray Ramaphosa as a wife-basher who beat his former partner, Hope -– an insinuation she strongly denied in subsequent radio interviews. If this was indeed Dlamini’s aim, then it represents the most cynical manipulation, for political ends, of an issue high on the public agenda.

This expedience is however entirely consistent with the Women’s League’s choice of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for future president -– for she too falls into the category of those who protect exploitative men.

As this litany of misbehaviour implies, profiting dishonestly from the state does not only derive in exploiting position and connections for personal financial benefit.

In 2004, in her capacity as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dlamini-Zuma cleared Norman Mashabane, the then-ambassador to Indonesia, of all 21 counts of sexual harassment he had been found guilty of in 2001, as well as another conviction in 2003.

The courts overturned Dlamini-Zuma’s decision in 2006 by upholding the original convictions. Mashabane stepped down as an adviser to the premier of Limpopo but was appointed to the Limpopo Provincial Legislature in 2007, a position he held briefly before dying in a car accident.

Manana is thus far from unusual in thinking he is exempt from promoting the state’s gender equality project [and space doesn’t permit an exhaustive cataloguing of the many others who also share this view]. Indeed, this disregard for gender equality extends from the state and into its shadow formation, as the allegations of sexual harassment against Tony and Ajay Gupta unearthed by the #GuptaLeaks suggest.

As this litany of misbehaviour implies, profiting dishonestly from the state does not only derive in exploiting position and connections for personal financial benefit. It is equally manifest in the sense of entitlement to sexual favours, as well as the expectation -– and provision –- of protection from the consequences of sexist or violent behaviour.

It’s time to incorporate and address this dimension of the state’s corrosion into our public discussions around reclaiming the state. To not do so is to relegate a founding principle of South Africa’s democracy to the periphery of our political struggles for the state.

Source: Huffington Post

LRC Press Release: Court finds marital status is irrelevant when adjudicating on application to alter sex description

For Imme­di­ate Release: 6 Sep­tem­ber 2017

Court orders that mar­i­tal sta­tus is an irrel­e­vant con­sid­er­a­tion when adju­di­cat­ing on an appli­ca­tion to alter sex descrip­tion in terms of the Alter­ation of Sex Descrip­tion Act

Today, 6 Sep­tem­ber 2017, the West­ern Cape High Court handed down judg­ment relat­ing to trans­gen­der spouses who are mar­ried in terms of the Mar­riages Act 25 of 1961 and have sub­se­quently applied to the Depart­ment of Home Affairs to alter their sex descrip­tor in terms of the Alter­ation of Sex Descrip­tion and Sex Sta­tus Act 49 of 2003.

The Depart­ment of Home Affairs refused to amend the sex descrip­tion of our clients, argu­ing that the exist­ing civil mar­riages, which are het­ero­sex­ual, pre­cluded the Depart­ment from amend­ing the sex descrip­tor as it would amount to recog­ni­tion of a same-sex mar­riage under the Mar­riages Act. One client’s mar­riage was deleted from the National Pop­u­la­tion Reg­is­ter, while two of our clients were advised to get divorced in order to give effect to their gen­der iden­tity rights.

The LRC wel­comes the judg­ment handed down by Judge Binns-Ward who declared that the con­duct by the Depart­ment of Home Affairs in refus­ing to alter their sex descrip­tion because of their mar­riages in terms of the Mar­riages Act infringed on the appli­cants rights to admin­is­tra­tive jus­tice, equal­ity and human dig­nity and was incon­sis­tent with their oblig­a­tions in terms of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

He empha­sised that the Direc­tor Gen­eral of Home Affairs is autho­rised and oblig­ated to deter­mine appli­ca­tions sub­mit­ted in terms of the Alter­ation of Sex Descrip­tion Act by any per­son, irre­spec­tive of whether that person’s mar­riage or civil part­ner­ship (if any) was solem­nised under the Mar­riage Act or Civil Union Act. [Own empha­sis]

The Court reviewed and set aside the Direc­tor Gen­eral of Home Affairs’ rejec­tion, alter­na­tively, fail­ure to decide the appli­ca­tions made by the appli­cants in terms of the Alter­ation of Sex Descrip­tion Act and ordered him to recon­sider the appli­ca­tions within 30 days of the date of this order.

The Court also found that the dele­tion of the mar­riage of the fifth and sixth appli­cants con­cluded in terms of the Mar­riages Act in order to alter the sex descrip­tion of the fifth appli­cant was unlaw­ful and the Direc­tor Gen­eral is ordered to rein­state this mar­riage on the national pop­u­la­tion reg­is­ter within 30 days of this order.

We are encour­aged by the Court’s deci­sion to ensure that the Alter­ation of Sex Descrip­tion Act, a law that is cru­cial in real­is­ing the right to iden­tity and equal­ity of trans­gen­der per­sons, is imple­mented in a man­ner that com­plies with the Con­sti­tu­tion of South Africa and that is respect­ful of the lived real­i­ties of trans­gen­der per­sons in South Africa. As the LRC, we cel­e­brate our clients’ courage in stand­ing up and fight­ing for their rights to iden­tity, bod­ily integrity and equal­ity.

ENDS

Source: Legal Resources Centre

Breaking! Jon Qwelane is guilty of hate speech

After almost a decade, Jon Qwelane has been found guilty of hate speech and of violating the Equality Act.

On Friday, in a case brought by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the Johannesburg High Court ruled that Qwelane’s 2008 Call me names, but gay is not okay article amounts to hate speech.

The court found that his statements were “clearly hurtful and harmful and had potential of causing harm”.

In a major development, Qwelane’s attempt to challenge the constitutionality of the Equality Act’s hate speech provision was also dismissed, with costs.

He was ordered to make an unconditional apology to the LGBTI community, negotiated and settled between the parties in 30 days, which must be published in the Sunday Sun.

Activist Melanie Judge, who was at the judgment, said the court’s decision “is a victory against all forms of hate speech in South Africa”.

In his article, published in the Sunday Sun, Qwelane suggested that homosexuality was similar to bestiality, said he supported Robert Mugabe’s homophobia (which includes calling gays and lesbians “worse than pigs and dogs”), and urged politicians to remove the sexual orientation equality clause from the Constitution.

A cartoon alongside the article depicted a man marrying a goat in church, further enforcing the idea that same-sex relationships are akin to bestiality.

During the trial, the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) led evidence on the nature and extent of the harm caused by homophobic hate speech and its impact on LGBTI people and society at large; and on the importance of the hate speech provision of the Equality Act to curb verbal and physical violence.

In 2011, an Equality Court ruled that the article “propagates hatred and harm against homosexuals” and ordered Qwelane to apologise to the gay community and to pay damages of R100,000 towards an LGBTI rights group.

He, however, had the ruling rescinded on a technicality. The SAHRC re-filed the charges, leading to today’s ruling.

Source: http://www.mambaonline.com

The WLC requests President Zuma to dismiss Mduduzi Manana

WLC Media Release
The WLC requests President to dismiss Mduduzi Manana, failing this, an urgent application will be launched before the courts. Cape Town, Wednesday 16 August 2017; The Women’s Legal Centre (WLC,) in a letter sent today to the Presidency, has requested President Jacob Zuma to dismiss Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mr Mduduzi Manana, who has admitted publicly to physically assaulting at least one woman at a nightclub in Fourways, Johannesburg, on 6 August 2017. Mr Zuma, as head of the Executive, and President of the country, appointed Mr Manana as a Deputy Minister. He has the power to dismiss him in terms of section 93 of the Constitution.

Says Advocate Bronwyn Pithey from the WLC; “It is our view, on our own behalf, and in the public interest, that the President’s failure to dismiss Mr Manana constitutes a clear violation of the Constitution in a number of respects.”

Mr Manana’s conduct in committing a serious assault of a woman, is clearly criminal. By perpetrating such an act of violence his conduct breaches the Constitution, his oath of office and the Executive Ethics Code. He has further acted in a manner that is inconsistent with the integrity of his office and the government. He has acted contrary to the commitments of the government to not tolerate violence against women. Even if Mr Manana is not found guilty in court, his conduct, on his own version, makes him unfit to occupy the office of a Deputy Minister. It is crucial to the Constitutional project, which includes the reduction in violence against women, that the government, and in particular the President, send a clear message to the public that violence against women will not be tolerated at any level. The failure to take any action against Mr Manana, notwithstanding the fact that more than a week has passed since he assaulted a woman, cannot be regarded as anything other than irrational given the information that is before the President.

“It is also our view that to have taken no action in these circumstances constitutes a breach of South Africa’s international obligations contained, inter alia, in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,” says Pithey.

For Mr Manana to continue to serve as a Deputy Minister in government undermines and makes hollow those commitments. The conduct of government officials, such as Mr Manana, must reflect the obligations of the Constitution and national legislation. Mr Manana has failed to comply with both.

“We request that Mr Manana be dismissed by 25 August 2017, failing which we intend launching an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court for the appropriate relief,” concludes Pithey.

-ends-

For more information and interview requests please contact Bronwyn Pithey on 084 702 7305 or bronwyn@wlce.co.za. Alternatively you can contact Angie Richardson on 083 397 2512 or angie@thepressoffice.net

Overcoming hate through relationship building

Accredited training to improve access to services for the LGBTI community in Kroonstad, FS

Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa – In response to the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of lesbian activist Nonki Smous in Kroonstad earlier this year, and the subsequent threats made to many of the local LGBTI community members, Enza Social Research set up and rolled out a crucial, accredited training intervention from 2-4 August 2017 at the Moqhaka Local Municipality in Maokeng, Kroonstad.

This training was not only aimed at creating relationships between local LGBTI activists and police, health and social workers from the area, but critically sought to improve access to social, health and justice services for the LGBTI community in Kroonstad.

Significantly, the participants signed a pledge on the last day of training, committing to work together to provide safe and supportive environments for LGBTI persons who experience sexual and gender based violence.

Local activist, Nthabiseng Mokanyane, confirmed that the session created a starting point for further dialogue, saying that, “I think if we can change perceptions, and that’s what this training is doing, it is helping to open eyes to see that we are humans; we may be victims but when you treat me, treat me as a human, not as someone who … doesn’t deserve services from the government.”

 

“The session has created a platform where we can start the conversation with the LGBTI community beyond the training itself and discuss how community members can come on board” said a participant of the training. “We have also established the partnerships with other government departments, and one thing that binds us all is the Batho Pele principles which requires us to be professional … and help all people equally.”

 

“We have to sustain what has been started,” said another participant, “This training is the baseline – we must have communication with the community, and measure ourselves against this. We want to strive to serve all our people.”

 

Tracy Jean-Pierre, who facilitated the training, said, “working with all sectors and the community to begin to build relationships and address prejudice was an important first step in finding solutions. Enza will continue to roll out the model in efforts to prevent violence and ensure justice for lesbian women.”

Enza’s intervention targets capacity building and behaviour change among justice, social and healthcare workers who are first responders to sexual assault, enabling them to competently provide the necessary support to survivors to ensure access to healthcare services and improve prospects for positive health outcomes.

Enza’s vision is for a world where LGBTI people can live free of the fear of violence, access critical social, health and justice services and enjoy a full set of rights. Enza exists to provide cutting edge research and deliver programmes that shift attitudes and behaviours, through both systemic change and community development.

 

Picture credit: Vicci Tallis

Passing of Prudence Mabele last night

ENZA Social Research joins with activists across South Africa and the world in paying tribute to Prudence Mabele for her relentless and brave activism for the rights of women, lesbians and the LGBT community, women living with HIV. Prudence was at the forefront of many struggles,  and was never afraid to be vocal and visible and vociferous. She was crazy, vital, fun, caring and loving. We send our thoughts and love to her family and friends and fellow activists. We will never be silent and we will continue to carry on the work she was so passionate about.