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Labour Wrap: Women's Month: more hype, less substance?

Aug 11 2016 07:09

WOMEN'S Day appears now to have morphed fully in Women’s Month, says Terry Bell in his latest Labour Wrap. But is this merely hype, an example of even more form with little substance? Or should it be characterised as an extended celebration of patronage?

Bell maintains that as the month got under way, these questions were brought sharply to the fore. Not only by a dramatic silent protest when President Jacob Zuma spoke at the Independent Electoral Commission, but by some of the reactions to that protest.

The four Economic Freedom Fighter gender activists reminded the audience - and the world’s television viewers - of the circumstances surrounding the Zuma rape trial ten years ago. And, says Bell, the reaction, especially of ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, did even more to highlight a shocking incident.

Zuma rape trial highly pertinent

In this time when news of Blessers and Blessees - older, more powerful and wealthy men preying on young women - is very much in the news, the Zuma trial is highly pertinent. The court held that the sex between Zuma and the HIV+ daughter of one of his friends was consensual. That it happened and the manner in which it did, is cause for concern.

What happened outside the court was even more worrying, says Bell. Groups of Zuma supporters, led by elements of the ANC Women’s League, screamed abuse at the woman who had laid the charge of rape. They referred to her as nondindwa — bitch. And demanded: Burn the bitch.

Bell maintains that what happened during and outside that trial was a reflection of the real situation regarding gender equality in South Africa. And there should have been no surprise that there would be a protest such as the one staged at the Independent Electoral Commission.  

He points out that this followed the warm pre-election acceptance by Zuma of ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman who, at the time, was supposedly suspended following allegations of sexual harrassment. And he maintains that the trade unions probably reflect more honestly the ongoing gender reality of South Africa.

* Add your voice or just drop Terry a labour question. Follow Terry on twitter @telbelsa.

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women's month  |  jacob zuma  |  terry bell  |  labour wrap
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