Durban - The Educators Union of SA has called for Department of Basic Education spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, to be suspended.
The call comes following a series of "sexy" tweets posted by Mhlanga highlighting the DBE's #ReadtoLead campaign.
UESA president, Scelo Bhengu, said they were disgusted and disappointed by Mhlanga's actions.
"His actions come as no surprise to us as many women have been sexually harassed within the education department while Elijah as a spokesperson became quiet and complacent to this fact. It is more disgusting that he manifests his actions during Women's Month," he said.
Bhengu said Mhlanga's tweets showed that he saw women's bodies as objects.
"He sees women as things to use for fun and pleasure. He fails to see how his actions place women in more danger than what women already face. In a country where women are abused hourly, this cannot be overlooked. Instead of Mhlanga admitting that he was wrong and apologising without reservations, he released a statement stating that he pushed the boundary slightly to play around with the meaning and pushed the narrative that reading can be done for fun and leisure. This is sheer arrogance and distasteful to say the least," he said.
Bhengu said the union is appealing to Minister Angie Motshekga to suspend Mhlanga. Motshekga has since distanced herself from the twitter controversy.
She said she has instructed the DBE's accounting officer to institute appropriate action.
Mhlanga has since apologised for his actions via his Twitter account.
Contemporary audiences that consume media tend to be open about sex and sexuality. I therefore have a full understanding of representation and metaphoric content...— Elijah Mhlanga (@ElijahMhlanga) August 12, 2019
....and in this context, I pushed the boundary slightly in order to play around with meaning, and push a narrative about reading as an activity that can be done for fun and leisure.— Elijah Mhlanga (@ElijahMhlanga) August 12, 2019
In your comfort zone, wherever you may be, you are at liberty to take a book and read and this is what we encourage. You can do this alone or with your partner, as long as the nation is reading.— Elijah Mhlanga (@ElijahMhlanga) August 12, 2019
We hope this issue will heighten interest in and sustain a conversation about the importance of reading and its significance in human development.— Elijah Mhlanga (@ElijahMhlanga) August 12, 2019
Yours in reading🙏