Thursday, November 29, 2018

Dlamini-Zuma: How women suffer from men’s wrongdoings

Dlamini-Zuma: How women suffer from men’s wrongdoings
December 28
12:36 2017

Despite  the progress our world has made on gender equity appreciation,  we still have a long way to go in reshaping the way society  at large perceive women as an extension of men. A major factor leading to the defeat of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the recent Africa National Congress’s (ANC) election in South Africa was traceable to the fact that she was seen from the lens of being President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife. 

Women have their personality and merit  and should be seen from that perspective. Our society need to begin to appreciate as well as use same yardstick for men and women. Especially in Africa where the patriarchal heritage is still very strong.

Few months ago, Nigerian born feminist and writer, Chimamanda Adichie, took a swipe at Nigerians, including the press, on how badly they had criticised former Petroleum Minister, Dieziani Madueke on her various alleged financial frauds Just because she is a woman. According to Adichie, there is assumption Nigerian male politicians are considered to  have enormous capacity  for stealing. Therefore when they do, it is not a big issue. The writer may have a reservation on this, but Adichie ‘ s opinion is respected.

But a woman politician who allegedly ‘join the bandwagon’ is frown at. Such a woman  is not seen as human with her weakness like her male counterparts. She is unjustly criticised because she is expected to be a ‘lady’. whatever that means.Adichie’s conclusion is that such   judgement is grossly unfair.

Coming back to our discussion, Dlamini-Zuma is seen and well regarded  as a professional cum politicians within South Africa and the continent. She is a trained medical doctor. For many, she is symbol of aspiration whose time is ripe. By her own rating and personality, Dlamini-Zuma had been regarded as a capable technocrat. With all these accolades, during ANC’s election, one of her campaign spokespersons said the team was up against hostile environment dominated with several biases. Unfortunately,   a section of the South African Press helped in promoting these.

Prominent feature in the media headlines, insinuations  days leading to the ANC’s election were the  attention paid to Dlamini-Zuma as Mr Zuma’s ex-wife.  A pointer to the burden and image of Zuma as a corrupt politician. We all know Jacob Zuma was  facing over 700 over alleged corruption cases.

ANC’S veteran secretary-general,  Gwede Mantashe,  was also quoted as saying the choice of Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma is like ‘life and death, prosperity and disaster’. He also insinuated  election of Dlamini-Zuma may soften the ground for Jacob Zuma’s trial. These suggestive statements could have done a little damage to Dlamini-Zuma’s chances. South Africa Communist party also claimed Dlamini-Zuma’ s election will lead to perpetuation of ‘Zuma’s dynasty’.

Yes, Dlamini-Zuma had claimed she was not bothered being called Zuma’s ex-wife. She was quoted in the media  such statement  is ‘patriarchal sexist thing promoted by those who have nothing to offer’. But the result of the election might have possibly proven her wrong. She was defeated by Ramaphosa with less than 180 votes.

Truth be told,  Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma might have been defeated by Ramaphosa due to other strong factors like  the acceptance of Ramaphosa by the investors’ community, his strong personality and possible view as the best candidate for now.

It is also on record, Dlamini-Zuma could have done a lot of damage to her own chances with her association some of her campaign funders who were seen as very corrupt. Dlamini-Zuma’s attitude towards many media houses she considered to be hostile to her aspiration  was contemptible. All these can serve as learning curve in the future to her team and other Africa women aspiring for leadership position.

Despite the above, a major point  being raised by the writer  is it is high time every human, irrespective be seen and judged based on their personality and not sex or marital status, present or past. Dlamini-Zuma was married to Zuma and they  had divorced. Their divorce was over twenty years. Why did that become a major issue on personal credibility, professionalism, capacity, competence and character of the former?  Will Jacob Zuma be judged with the same yardstick if he is in her shoe? We guess time is now ripe for Africans to review our patriarchal heritage.


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