Johannesburg - To fight with her buttocks wasn’t literally what Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane meant, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t being inappropriate.
On Monday, The Sowetan reported that Mokonyane had said at the launch of a water project in Marite, Mpumalanga, at the weekend: “The attack is not on Zuma, but it is on the ANC. Re tlo thiba ka dibono (We will defend with our buttocks).”
But Dr Rethabile Possa, a lecturer at the School of Languages and Literatures at UCT, said the statement would not have been meant literally.
“This means: ‘We will fight with everything. We will never give up,’” she said. “It’s not just a fight that people fight under normal circumstances, it’s a very serious fight.”
She said there was a cultural implication to saying they would fight “with their buttocks”, because for a woman to go naked is taboo in Sotho culture.
“To use the private parts, it shows it doesn’t matter what you guys say, we are at the point of fighting whether he (Zuma) is right or wrong.”
Possa said that to use such a phrase, in the context of talking about a president to the public, was inappropriate.
“It’s not used in public. You wouldn’t want your children to hear such a minister saying this,” she said.
Mokonyane’s spokeswoman, Brenda Mpitsang, told The Sowetan newspaper the buttocks comment was not literal.
“She was using a figure of speech.
“She was just showing to what extent we would go to protect the president. There is no literal meaning to what she said,” she said.
Mpitsang could not be reached for comment on Monday.
But the minister’s comments did stir controversy on social media.
On Twitter @Ppmatjeni said: “Min Mokonyane ‘Re tlo thiba ka dibono’ LMAO (laughing my a**e off)! Isn’t this controversial statement? Are we quoting you out of context Minister?”
@nakampejoee said: “Mokonyane has lost all her integrity, she failed in gauteng, no wonder she is defending zuma wit her all.”