President Jacob Zuma’s National Women’s Day speech on Wednesday was well received and encouraging according to various ANC spokespeople present, however, external viewers noticed that a certain Deputy Education Minister was conveniently glanced over throughout proceedings.
Speaking in Kimberly a day after his narrow – yet expected – escape from the chopping board, President Zuma addressed the Northern Cape crowds surrounding one of the country’s biggest modern social plagues, violence against women.
“The crimes against women take many forms – physical, sexual, economic, psychological and emotional”, said the President. “They all represent a violation of human rights and dignity”.
Yet despite all these keen observations from our still number one, audience members struggled to hear the name Mduduzi Manana, who assaulted a woman at a Fourways nightclub a few days prior, throughout any of the numerous speeches.
Deputy Minister for Education Manana admitted to assaulting Mandisa Duma and apologised on Women’s Day, with Duma publicly refuting his apology.
Duma told the media that she would not accept the apology as she is not the first woman to be assaulted in such a manner by Manana and believes the apology to be utterly empty.
The assault followed an alleged verbal altercation where Manana claims he was called “gay” by Duma.
In a short video clip captured by a nearby club-goer, Duma can be seen surrounded by various men – including Manana – and receiving at least two violent and open-handed hits by the Deputy Minister.
Social media was set ablaze by these images with various people decrying Manana’s actions.
National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise expressed her disgust in Manana stating that he is a disgrace.
Yet, despite the verbal and virtual outrage close to nothing has been done. If anything, worrying responses have been given by party big-wigs who seem to be increasingly out-of-touch on this issue.
Chief among these, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula who replied to questions surrounding the assault saying that Manana had called him after the incident had occurred.
“When Mdu Manana called, I told him, ‘chief you’ve got to organise yourself in terms of the law. Get yourself lawyers, the law will grind you on this matter’”, said Mbalula.
The Minister proceeded to tell Manana, in no minced words, that he would personally wash his hands of this issue immediately.
Although Manana is now expected to appear before court on Thursday – without any official confirmation on this from his party – it’s safe to say that the ruling party’s narrative on abuse against women continues to be uninspiring towards our confidence.
Heavily then, do we wish our women a happy National Women’s Day, unsure if the solidarity, awareness and advocacy we strive for, will do much to rid them of this daily muck.