GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

#NotOurLeaders Jihad Mohapi and 4 Others

NotOurLeaders

16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

For release: Late Wednesday 6 December 2017

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO….?

CASE 10: Mohapi Jihad Mohapi, Free State representative to the National Council of Provinces and chair of the Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs

In February 2015 Mohapi Jihad Mohapi, chair of the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Select Committee in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) was charged with assaulting his former girlfriend. According to a journalist who had access to the photographs, the woman’s injuries included a blue eye and bruising to most of her upper chest region, the upper part of one arm, as well as one thigh. Mohapi handed himself over to the police and was charged with assault, kidnapping and crimen injuria. The fate of the criminal case is unknown.

Parliament’s Ethics Committee reported on 16 March 2016 that the Mohapi matter was referred for further investigation to a subcommittee, with a hearing scheduled for April 2016. It is likely there were no meaningful consequences as Mohapi remains the chair of COGTA and is also a member of the Select Committees on Petitions and Executive Undertakings, along with Security and Justice.

Like Mduduzi Manana (#NotOurLeaders Case 9), Mohapi is a MP who experiences no disconnect between his public duties and private conduct. While Manana was leading dialogues on gender-based violence on university campuses at the time he assaulted three women, the Select Committee in the NCOP that Mohapi chairs was exercising parliamentary oversight of the Department for Women in both 2015 and 2016. In 2016, the year of parliament’s investigation into Mohapi’s conduct, the Select Committee dealt with reports from the Commission for Gender Equality too. (Neither body appeared before the Select Committee in 2017 though.)

“Right now there’s a great deal of emphasis on getting men to take up the problem of violence against women,” said the Women and Democracy Initiative’s Vivienne Mentor Lalu. “But appointing men to powerful political positions in order to champion matters of gender equality purely on the basis that they are men is naïve – even dangerous – when it is not accompanied by careful scrutiny of their conduct and history in this field.”

Forgetting violence in peri-urban and rural area?

Mohapi Jihad Mohapi’s case is not the only one to disappear quietly. These four rape cases reported between 2013 and 2016 have all disappeared equally quietly.

  • Unnamed ANC Councillor, North West – Arrested after being accused of raping a 13-year old girl in March 2013. This may have been Benjamin Khoza of Moretele, who was reportedly suspended from the ANC subsequent to the criminal charges being laid against him. In 2015 the Sosh Times reported the case as still ongoing. No information on the case’s eventual outcome could be located.
  • Unnamed ANC Councillor, Devland Gauteng – accused of raping his 10-year-old daughter in November 2013. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located.
  • Unnamed DA Councillor, Buffalo City Metro, Eastern Cape – In February 2015 the media reported that the councilor had been arrested, but not yet charged with the rape of his former girlfriend. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located.
  • Unnamed ANC member campaigning to be nominee in the 2016 local elections, Vryburg, North West – charged with the rape of a 14-year old girl. To its credit, the local branch of ANC Women’s League protested his actions vigorously, including outside court. No further information of the outcome of this case could be located. It is also unknown whether or not he went on to stand as a local councilor.

“What each of today’s cases have in common is their invisibility” said Lisa Vetten. She identifies this invisibility as occurring on at least two levels:

“The first has to do with the absence of violent images of these crimes. Mduduzi Manana’s violence, along with images of the women’s injuries, was broadcast across Twitter and beyond. These visuals playing a considerable role in provoking a public outcry over Manana’s conduct. But in Jihad Mohapi’s case, the photographic evidence of his violence remained within the confines the police docket. This surely contributed to the near non-existent response to his behavior, including by the general public.”

A second factor contributing to the invisibility of these cases, she said, is their perpetration by men based within provincial and local political structures: “Because they hold a relatively low-level, unglamorous status within the hierarchy of our democratic institutions, provincial and local structures and their staff attract far less public interest than their national counterparts.”

Vetten also highlights how

“A great many of these reports come from peri-urban and rural communities where social and traditional media almost never go and help is often absent. In these forgotten corners of our democracy, political position seems less open to critical scrutiny – so magnifying its power, which is further entrenched by networks of patronage and protection. Further, in small or rural areas, the municipality is often the biggest and most important employer. Speaking out in this context, where employment and promotion opportunities are limited, can present real risks to complainants.”

#NotOurLeaders calls for the following action

Our call today is very simple and directed at the media, as well as South Africa’s various public groupings:

  • Report on and follow-up cases involving our political representatives and institutions. It is in the public interest to know what our power-holders do with their positions and authority.
  • Treat all reports of sexual misconduct, abuse and violence with equal seriousness. A focus only on the high-profile, national figures should not overshadow the victimisation of women and girls by less-prominent individuals, in small, rural areas.

For comment contact:

  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788

For more cases from #NotOurLeaders click here

RELATED MEDIA STORIES

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/sowetan/20150220/281517929562455

http://allafrica.com/stories/201603170776.html

https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/ANC-councillor-held-over-rape-20130319

https://issuu.com/hermino/docs/sosh_times_early_march

http://www.thenewage.co.za/anger-at-sex-pest-claims/

http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2015/02/06/da-councillor-held-for-rape/

http://ewn.co.za/2013/11/27/ANC-councillor-accused-of-raping-his-daughter

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

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GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

Violent Politicians are #NotOurLeaders

LHRDOI

 

24 November 2017 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

#NotOurLeaders Campaign launched by Women and Democracy Initiative, Lawyers for Human Rights and gender violence specialist during 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

Tomorrow, 25 November, marks the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women. Activities led by government emphasise the importance of taking action to end gender-based violence but do political parties walk the talk?

Mduduzi Manana has resigned from his position as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training and been convicted and sentenced for committing assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. But he is neither the first nor the only political representative to behave violently towards women. During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights, and gender violence specialist Lisa Vetten turn the spotlight on political representatives and the protectors and keepers who enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. Each day the group will release the name and facts of a different case of a leader embroiled in sexual abuse charges. The aim is to reflect both on the incidents themselves, as well as the responses of the political parties to which these men belong, their actions proving a litmus test of their true commitment to addressing sexual violence.

South Africa’s political representatives are the guardians of the Constitution and rights it contains, including the right to gender equality and the right to be free from all forms of violence, whether from public or private sources. It is their responsibility to develop laws that advance these rights, hold government departments to account for their (in)action in this regard, and approve budgets that make these rights realities. But political representatives’ ability to improve women and men’s lives is compromised when they appoint abusive men to positions of power.

“Political parties that appoint these men, then fail to act against them, or protect them, are hypocritical. Over the next 16 days, we will hear a lot of public condemnation of violence against women and children from various leaders, but this campaign turns the focus on what politicians and parties actually do, not what they say,” said Sanja Bornman of the Lawyers for Human Rights’ Gender Equality programme. Parties undermine efforts to address gendered forms of violence when they fail to develop systems and procedures addressing sexual violence, or fail to put their policies and procedures into effect. They also hamper South Africa’s efforts to meet Goal 5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Target 5.5 of this goal is to “ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.” Yet women’s political participation and representation is undermined in environments where sexual violence and abuse go unchecked.

Says Lisa Vetten: “These problems are not new and if they are allowed to persist there is a risk they will become permanent features of our political landscape. As the country currently debates the quality of its political representatives this dimension of their conduct should not be overlooked.”

The individuals we will be focusing on are #NotOurLeaders and we demand that political structures act decisively and urgently to tackle the problems we will be highlighting during the 16 Days.

For queries:

  • Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725
  • Vivienne Mentor-Lalu, Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788
  • Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933
Benedicta Van Minnen
GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

Women politicians in the firing line far more than men

Benedicta Van Minnen
Benedicta Van Minnen

By Benedicta Van Minnen

In death, as in life, Margaret Thatcher was always bound to cause comment. However, much as one disagrees with her politics, one cannot deny the role she played in advancing female political leadership and the ground-breaking work making it easier for women to take up their places in political discourse. Whether this was deliberate on her part is irrelevant, an important part of her legacy has been the increased visibility of female leadership.

With that in mind, it is the actions of some of her detractors with their malicious and gleeful celebration of her death that causes unease and concern. The media shows images of groups of people, far too young to remember anything of the Thatcher years, gathering across Britain to celebrate and “dance on her grave”, whilst social clubs in union strongholds are planning parties for the day of her death. When her political contemporary, and ideological partner, Ronald Reagan, died, the same reaction did not apply, and he was largely treated as an elder statesman.

Other than the fact that common decency would militate against such crass bad manners, these actions should serve to remind society how female politicians face a level of hostility, vilification and personal comment seldom, if ever, experienced by their male counterparts.

Instead of criticising their policies, the criticisms leaved at women politicians often focus on personal attributes and characteristics as a way of undermining their ability and credibility. And this is uniformly applicable across the political spectrum – from Margaret Thatcher to Hillary Clinton. From Helen Zille to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Angela Merkel to Julia Gillard and everyone in between.

How many times is Jacob Zuma described as overweight, or Tony Blair criticised for wearing an ill-fitting suit? Boris Johnson’s hair is seen as endearing rather than being the subject of criticism. When is the vocal delivery of a male politician criticised whilst Thatcher and Gillard face continual derision. Such criticisms of male politicians would be treated with the contempt, but are regular and common place for women in the same position.

This is particularly true of the political left, and all the more worrying for that. It is interesting that the Unions who despised Thatcher’s policies, only elected their first female General Secretary, Francis O’ Grady in 2012, the ANC Women’s League has yet to suggest a female contender for leadership, and Julia Gillard is continually facing down political attacks from within her own Australian Labour Party.

Indeed, according to the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report women have gained little ground in political leadership around the world, with men still in about 80 percent of key elected and appointed positions.

The popular slogan “well behaved women seldom make history” takes on a more sinister tone when its true meaning is revealed; not that women who make history are those who break the mold, but that “ well behaved women” are those silenced by society and traditional gender bias and who do not presume to take on public leadership positions.

Given this one can only draw the worrying conclusion that the level of glee being expressed upon the death of Margaret Thatcher has less to do with her flawed policies, but actually serves as a form of gender control and is indicative of a deep political chauvinism that the Left could well take on board as something they must examine within their own soul.