King’s chau­vin­ism was ‘mis­un­der­stood’

CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

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

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