The Department of Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga has his work cut out for him. As a public servant, he's probably called on from time to time to promote some of the department's campaigns, including its Lead to Read initiative.
Launched in 2015, the focus of the campaign is to improve the reading abilities of all South African children, while the main aim is to ensure that all learners are able to demonstrate age appropriate levels of reading by 2019.
So Twitter was left confused and utterly dumbstruck when Mhlanga posted an image of a woman sitting on a couch "reading" a book with the #ReadtoLead hashtag.
"Reading for leisure is also therapeutic. It relaxes the mind, body and soul," he tweeted.
Granted, it's an innocent enough post, but the accompanying image left a bitter taste in the mouth. Dressed in what appears to be a body suit, and with her breasts suggestively on show, you'd be mistaken for thinking the post had nothing to do with promoting reading among SA's youth.
Degrading and obviously unnecessary, many were taken aback. Even Debbie Schafer, MEC for Education in the Western Cape, waded into the debate.
Really disappointed in this Elijah. Can’t believe this is actually you.— Debbie Schafer (@DebbieSchafer) August 12, 2019
Some even called for Mhlanga to remove the picture, while others branded it inappropriate.
Can we ask the gentleman to remove the pic. We respect our @DBE_SA ! Learners etc will be misled but this. Remove now, please.— FOSTER LEADERSHIP INC. (@DeonFosterLEAD) August 12, 2019
I am shocked that these are the images that you would use to promote reading in this country- it is totally inappropriate— [email protected] (@amnestyshenilla) August 11, 2019
A user even suggested that Mhlanga's account had been hacked, to which he swiftly responded "It's hacked by me".
It’s hacked by me 😂😂— Elijah Mhlanga (@ElijahMhlanga) August 10, 2019