President Jacob Zuma and King Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana of the royal VhaVenda people. Photo: GCIS
President Jacob Zuma and King Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana of the royal VhaVenda people. Photo: GCIS

Zuma’s Venda women comments slammed

By Bongani Hans Time of article published Dec 20, 2013

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma says that if he was not already married to his four wives, he would marry a Venda woman “because they even lie down to show respect for other people”.

He was addressing hundreds of people in Impendle in the Midlands earlier this week where he emphasised the importance of respect.

Zuma said young women and men must exercise self-respect and respect for others.

“When I was in Venda recently I was so impressed to see how people there express respect for other people,” he said.

“A woman would clap her hands and even lie down to show respect.

“I was so impressed. If I was not already married to my wives I would go to Venda to look for a woman,” he said to laughter from those attending the event on Wednesday, which followed the Day of Reconciliation on Monday.

The event had been organised by the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, South African Social Security Agency and the provincial treasury.

 

But his comments were criticised by the Eastern Cape-based Support Centre, which deals with women’s rights.

Support Centre co-ordinator Phumla Ndende said that before he “appreciated” a culture, Zuma should first assess if that culture was not oppressing women.

“If you express respect in such a way that you even lie down it means you are scared of the person you are respecting,” she said.

“Even the practice of women kneeling in front of their husband is not acceptable.

“This means Zuma is over-expecting respect from women, which is a gesture of undermining their rights.”

Zuma said he also found men in Venda using the same gesture to express respect.

Last night Dr John Mphaphuli, an anthropologist from Unisa, agreed and said that men and women used the same gesture towards each other.

However, he said it would be wrong of Zuma to marry someone just so they would get respect because marriage should be about love.

Zuma is married to Sizakele Khumalo, Nompumelelo Ntuli, Thobeka Mabida and Bongekile Ngema.

He said as a leader he would like to lead disciplined people with self-respect and respect for others. “As leaders we want to lead disciplined people, not hooligans.”

He called on young men to keep themselves looking clean and smart so that they would look attractive to women.

Zuma said that most young men spent their time drinking alcohol instead of courting women.

“As a young man you should not always be thirsty. When are you getting time to focus on women? It is a man’s responsibility to find a woman so that he can get married and build a home.

“There is no proper home for a single man. Wake up in the morning, take a bath, dress nicely and go out on the street. Even if you are not going to court a woman, woman must see a gentlemen in you,” he said.

Women must also look after themselves.

Zuma also said young children did not feel safe in the presence of men because men had lost respect for children.

“In the old days men respected women, but today men slaughter women. In the old days, children would run to men if they see a lion (danger), but these days children see a man and run for their lives,” he said.

Zuma said during a similar event last year in Impendle that spending money on buying a dog, taking it to the vet and for walks belonged to the white culture and was not the African way, which was to focus on the family.

Attempts to get comment from Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, were unsuccessful.

The Mercury

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