King’s chauvinism was ‘misunderstood’
AmaXhosa King Mpendulo “Zwelonke” Sigcawu – who this week made controversial comments that women were “too sensitive” to be president of the country – has back-pedalled, claiming his words were “misunderstood”.
Speaking through his uncle, Prince Xhanti Sigcawu, he said his remarks were not directed at presidential hopeful Nkosazana DlaminiZuma, in whose presence they were made, but to women in general.
“King Zwelonke seems to have been misunderstood by the media. What he said was not directed at Dlamini-Zuma. The king was speaking his mind, saying: I hear that there is a possibility that we might have a female president. But now, as a person, I am nursing fears because the way I know women is that women are people who are always soft and sensitive, and cannot handle difficult situations.”
Dlamini-Zuma visited the king on Tuesday at his Nqadu Great Place near Willowvale, where a cow was slaughtered in her honour. The visit was used by her supporters, which included members of the ANC Women’s League, to campaign for her as the next ANC president, arguing the party was ready for a female leader. “To put the record straight, this does not have anything [to do] with being sexist or undermining women. “The king only wishes that when a decision is taken that a woman becomes president, we would have looked at all the pros and cons so that we don’t regret the decision later. The king is not insulting women. He loves them. He too was born of women and respects them,” Xhanti emphasised. Politicking was at play as some people were using the king’s remarks for their “selfish benefit” and for political mileage ahead of the ANC’s December elective conference, said Xhanti. “They are deliberately misinterpreting the king’s statement with the purpose of driving their own agendas. The reality of the matter is that umama [Dlamini-Zuma] was welcomed. He [the king] would not have slaughtered a cattle which is the highest honour to welcome an important guest (sic).” He added that the king did not undermine Dlamini-Zuma, ex-wife of President Jacob Zuma, because she had done well as chairperson of the AU Commission. He said the king felt that when it came to the position of president, he was not sure whether Dlamini-Zuma was strong enough, as the position needed a “strong person” and that the previous four male presidents had not managed to “get things right”.
“So, how much [more difficult] will it be if it’s a women? He has fears that a woman, not specifically [Dlamini-Zuma], can be able to handle [the pressure of] being a president. From where we sit, all that you would expect from women to say to the king is that he must not worry because we [women] can handle this,” Xhanti said.
The prince, who is also spokesperson for the king, said the king was not a chauvinist because there were women in leadership positions in his Xhosa kingdom.
The king has female chiefs, which Xhanti argued was proof that the king did not subscribe to sentiments that “a woman’s place is only in the kitchen”.
Xhanti also disputed claims that Dlamini-Zuma, whose campaign is known as NDZ, was at the Nqadu Great Place to garner support from the king for the ANC presidency.
Asked if the king had any preferred candidate in the ANC race – seen to be a two-horse race between Dlamini-Zuma and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa – Xhanti said: “No, the king has not pronounced on any candidate. We hear there are a lot of people who have ambitions ... we have interacted with most of them at the palace, but they never said to us they want to become president,” Xhanti said.
amaXhosa King Mpendulo Sigcawu