Move be­yond rhetoric

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

Jus­tice must be seen to be done, re­gard­less of what one’s po­si­tion is. This is the only way we can have com­plete con­fi­dence that the rule of law knows no colour or what po­si­tion one holds in so­ci­ety.

This chance pre­sented it­self to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, the gov­ern­ing ANC and Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Deputy Min­is­ter Mduduzi Manana this week.

In­stead of the rhetoric and at­tempt to apol­o­gise for beat­ing up a woman, Manana should have shown lead­er­ship and stepped down, which would have shown that he took his party and govern­ment’s poli­cies on women abuse se­ri­ously.

In­stead, Manana told the country that “re­gard­less of the ex­treme provo­ca­tion, I should have ex­er­cised re­straint. That shame­ful in­ci­dent should not have hap­pened.”

The ex­treme provo­ca­tion, by the way, was the vic­tim “in­sult­ing” him by call­ing him gay. This in con­sti­tu­tional South Africa in 2017.

He went on: “I know that my ac­tions and those of the peo­ple in my com­pany have disappointed and hurt many peo­ple in the country. As a leader, I should have known bet­ter and acted bet­ter. I will sub­ject my­self fully to the process of the law and give it my full co­op­er­a­tion.”

The last bit should have read: “As a leader, I have de­cided to step down from all po­si­tions in govern­ment and the ANC so that I can deal with this matter ac­cord­ingly.” That’s lead­er­ship.

Then the ANC’s Zizi Kodwa came and said “such be­hav­iour is un­ac­cept­able and should be roundly con­demned by all”. He should have added that Manana had since been re­called by the party.

The ANC Women’s League said it had “noted the dis­turb­ing re­ports”. Re­ally? Only noted?

Be­sides the shock, Zuma blab­bered on about vi­o­lence against women be­ing a pri­or­ity crime, and that women have a right to safety, se­cu­rity and to be safe from abuse.

In a country where cases of women abuse are so rife and get worse daily, was this the best our lead­ers could come up with? Rhetoric and more rhetoric, but no ac­tion.

As you read this, Manana still has his job, and his party’s in­tegrity com­mis­sion will con­duct its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion – de­spite the fact that he ad­mit­ted the as­sault and sent out a public apol­ogy.

This lame re­sponse is as dis­grace­ful as Manana’s ac­tion it­self.

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