The sexism probe against Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba in the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has come to nothing, with the commission claiming it had no evidence with which to go after the Democratic Alliance (DA) mayor.
In a front-page article published in The Star Mashaba called women who work for the City ‘girlfriends’. He was quoted as saying “”the days when they allowed their girlfriends to run state institutions are over”. He was referring to the ANC which had been running the city until the Democratic Alliance (DA) took over in the last municipal elections.
The DA mayor then went on to do an interview on SABC and repeated his sexist comments. In that interview, readily available on the Internet, he says: “We’ve seen over the years under the ANC government where girlfriends of politicians run the departments and so forth. That has to come to an end….”.
His statements angered women across the country with the exception of the DA which didn’t distance itself from its mayor. In response to his utterances, a group of women under the banner #SexismMustFall then lodged a complaint of sexism with the CGE giving him seven days within which to respond to demands for a public apology and retraction of his statements; and his plans to empower women. At the time, chairperson of the group, Loyiso Masuku said they had approached the commission to help hold Mashaba to account: “We are here to ask, can the commission work with us and work for us in ensuring that Mashaba accounts for his disrespect for women.”
In a clear cover-up, Business Live ran an article “Mashaba hits back at claims of sexism”, in which he reportedly “denied the ‘unfounded” and ‘libellous’ allegations of sexism”. https://www.businesslive.co.za/news/latest-news/2016-10-14-herman-mashaba-hits-back-at-claims-of-sexism/
Mashaba’s spokesperson, Gabu Tugwana is quoted as saying: “Those allegations are unfounded and unsupported, in fact they are libellous. Mayor Mashaba’s lawyers have demanded that certain individuals who started these allegations some time ago produce proof of what they are alleging or face legal consequences”.
Firstly, the statements are there in media reports and on SABC for all to see. They are therefore founded, supported and are not allegations. They are fact. If there’s any person who ought to be facing lawyers, it is Mashaba but if nothing else, the media ought to hold him to account for his chauvinism as they would any other man – especially one in high office.
Commission for Gender Equality’s response
Spokesperson of the CGE said the commission had been waiting for footage from Eye Witness News reporter, Clement Manyathela, without which “we have no case”. He said the investigation was at an advanced stage with the only stumbling block being the eNCA footage.
It however emerged that the CGE had received evidence compiled by Phindile Chauke, a member of the #SexismMustFall. An email of 10 March 2017, from the CGE’s Masilo J Letsoalo to Eunice, also at CGE, confirms receipt of the “evidence”.
UnCensored sent questions by email to Manyathela and he had not responded at the time of publishing this article. The article will be updated as soon as he reverts with more clarity on his role in the matter.