08 August 2017, South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Civil Society Forum (CSF) Condemns violence perpetrated by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana who allegedly assaulted a woman during a row at a nightclub in which he further confirmed his involvement via media. The incident happened during Women’s Month and has caused outrage among civil society, activists and the general population. SANAC Civil Society Forum voices disgrace and concern about the lack of action against Mduduzi Manana and limited action to address gender-based violence in South Africa. Therefore, CSF leaders are demanding action and accountability from government regarding gender-based violence response in the country but also in particular, the recent case of Manana where he must be held to account for his actions.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world. Gender-based violence is a social ill, an act that targets women, an expression of inequality and normative patriarchy. It is a human rights violation which has consequently led to the loss of lives.
The SANAC Deputy Chairperson, Steve Letsike says “We expect South Africans, we expect men and particularly those in leadership positions to abide by the Constitution that seeks to protect and promote and fulfill the rights of everyone in the country. And in this case, we have a Deputy Minister who was seen exercising force in the form of gender-based violence against another person. There is no reward for violence. Civil society calls for action to be taken. The Deputy Minister must account for his actions. He has played a public role in the HIV space where we have always seen GBV as a driver of the HIV epidemic. This perpetuates stigma, misogyny and homophobia, which we find many men getting away with. It is crucial that South Africa urgently addresses violence against women and girls in all their diversity.”
The SANAC Men’s Sector leader, Reverend Bafana Khumalo has this to say “The brute thuggery of deputy minister of Higher Education and his friends demonstrates the immense challenge we face as a country in relation to violence against women. These perpetrators must be arrested immediately and the ANC must remove the deputy minister from his position now!”
The SANAC Women’s Sector leader Silungile Mntambo expresses empathy to all survivors of gender based violence and has this to say “Mr Mduduzi Manana’s behaviour is proof of existing abuse and harassment against women. South Africa continues to experience increase of rape and murder. Manana’s actions contribute to this ugly picture. Manana seeks political publicity and is not concerned about gender-based violence.”
The SANAC Youth Sector leader Thembinkosi Josopu condemns violence against women and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. He states “This incident affects young people; it will be an issue from generation to generation.”
In June 2017, the Sports, Art and Culture Sector started implementing the Ubuntu initiative. The campaign has been implemented in various provinces and calls for men to take responsibility for their health and their conduct. The sport, arts and culture sector is dismayed by the behaviour of Manana. Sector leader, Mabalane Mfundisi has this to say “Manana’s behaviour goes against the many calls and campaigns aimed at engaging men as part of ending gender based violence. Manana has himself taken to platforms advocating against abuse of women.”
Chief Kutala Jumba representing the Traditional Leaders sector states “Manana is a person who has forgotten his vows on servicing and protecting the people of South Africa.” The sector has described Manana as an “embarrassment” and his actions as “cowardice”.
The Health Professionals Sector represented by Dr Sizeka Maweya emphasised “The strides made to reduce and abolish these actions that leave our women and children, our country violated, vulnerable and robbed of freedom, humanity and self-worth should not go passed unanswered. Perpetrators should face the consequences of their actions.”
The Sex Work Sector led by Thulisile Khoza also expresses frustration and anger towards Manana “Manana cannot blame alcohol for his behaviour. Enough is enough.”
The Labour Sector represents the unions. Sector leader Godfrey Selematsela states “His apology is not acceptable, he should have known better, having participated in the gender based dialogue last year.”
As SANAC CSF including the NGO Sector expresses concern regarding Manana’s behaviour. It is unacceptable. He is one of the people who is supposed to be protecting young women rather than bashing them. SANAC CSF also note that the label ‘Gay’ cannot be used to justify violence. Furthermore they recognise the high levels of homophobia and transphobia that exist in SA. It is crucial for South Africans to respect diversity amongst people, particularly in the Higher Education space where young people must be taught to understand human sexuality. TVETS and colleges must be shedding knowledge on human sexuality.
SANAC CSF condemns what Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana has done and therefore calls for:
- law enforcement to urgently act on this matter.
- Manana to do an honourable thing and recuse himself from public office
- The government of South Africa to develop a national strategic plan against GBV that is well coordinated.
- We call on South Africans to stand up against GBV.
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