Quote of the week

Senekal last week had nothing to do with solutions. It was all about politicians’ testosterone. It was all about politicians’ egos. What useful idea came out of all that heat and noise generated by all those politicians in Senekal last week? There is nothing. Nothing that makes SA a better place. Nothing that leads us to a better understanding of race relations in SA after 1994. Nothing that is a solution to farm murders – many of whose victims are poorly paid, desperate black people – or a solution to the incredibly horrendous murder and crime problem in this country.

Justice Malala
Sunday Times Daily
13 March 2007

Parliamentary skinner…..

It seems the individuals who work as Chief Financial Officers of Parliament just can’t stay out of trouble. Last year, then Chief Financial Officer, Harry Charlton was fired, allegedly for being too open and honest about the Travel gate scandal (but that has not been conclusively established yet).

Now, the halls of Parliament are abuzz because of a remark (apparently made yesterday at a meeting of Parliamentary staff) by the newly appointed Chief Financial Officer. Apparently, addressing Parliamentary staff, she stated towards the end of her presentation that female staff in Parliament invited sexual harrasment because of the provocative way some of them were dressed.

This is, of course, such a horrid, stereotypically sexist, thing to say that it is difficult to imagine that any reasonably intelligent person in 2007 in South Africa would say such a thing with a straight face. Let alone a person employed in such an important position in Parliament. Such talk belongs at Kappie Kommando Rallies and at Jong Dames Dinamiek Bible study groups.

Maybe she was joking? Maybe she is deeply religious and was just channeling the Pope and all the other dead or half-dead reactionary men? Maybe she is a secret supporter of Mr Jacob Zuma or Mbulelo Goniwe and was just showing some solidarity with the trusted old patriarchs?

In any case, the mind boggles. Can Parliament really afford to employ a women who spouts such hateful sexism? It is unimaginable that Parlaiment would not fire a Chief Financial Officer who suggests, say, that all black people are dishonest. This statement is the gender equivalent of such an utterance and if Parliament is serious about gender equality the new Chief Financial Officer should soon be the ex Chief Financial Officer.

Then again, don’t hold your breath. Patriarchy is far from dead in South Africa – even (or maybe especially) in the halls of Parliament.

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