SOUTH Africa’s Women Affairs minister Susan Shabangu yesterday lashed out at Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe, describing her comments on women who wore miniskirts as “sad” and coming from someone who required to be liberated, NewsDay has learnt.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Shabangu’s utterances might likely trigger a diplomatic tiff between the neighbouring countries.
Addressing a breakfast meeting organised by media house The New Age to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Shabangu tore into Grace, describing her as “oppressed and in need of liberation”.
“That’s a sad statement which cannot be accepted, said by a woman,” Shabangu said.
“We also need to understand, the issue of socialisation and training becomes very important. It doesn’t mean that those at the top are socially liberated [and] they understand. Some of them are so oppressed they need to be liberated. So it’s a reflection of a woman, because of the position she is occupying, who thinks she is liberated, but not.”
Juxtaposing the South African scenario with that of Zimbabwe, Shabangu said she was happy that at least South Africa had First Ladies who participate in advocacy awareness programmes in making sure they change the stereotypes.
“We are very fortunate to have such First Ladies who are conscious, who don’t go about blaming women for inviting such horrible things. No woman can invite rape because it destroys you, it kills you, your spirit psychologically, it affects you,” Shabangu said.
Addressing a Zanu PF rally in Mberengwa, Midlands province, Grace recently castigated young girls who wore miniskirts and accused them of exposing themselves to rapists by showing off their “thighs and inviting men to drool over” them.
“That is unfortunate because it will be your fault,” Grace said.
But the South African minister said it was expected that someone with such a high social standing would be aware of the effects of rape, but it seemed Grace was not “socially liberated”.
“So it can’t be right for a woman to say such a thing. So we need to educate the woman and free the woman from oppression,” Shabangu said to a round of applause from the participants during the discussion.
President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba declined to comment on Shabangu’s statement yesterday.
“We have not seen that statement. There was a politburo meeting today (yesterday) and we haven’t seen the statement. We will react when we see it,” Charamba said.