ANC defends Mazibuko 'weight' comment

Lindiwe Mazibuko posing outside parliament

File: DA Parlimentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko posing for photo with a smile on the red carpet outside parliament where the february 14 2013 State of the Nation Address was taking place.

Cape Town - The ANC says while it stands by its statement that Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko was inappropriately dressed for Parliament, a statement by its MP John Jeffery was made in reference to her influence and power and not her physical weight.

ANC MP John Jeffery allegedly said: "While the Honourable Mazibuko may be a person of substantial weight, her stature is questionable."

ANC MP Buti Manamela also addressed Mazibuko, criticising her attire as inappropriate and irresponsible for a role model (watch below).

 

Mazibuko hit back by saying that the remarks were "sexist and chauvinistic". She then tweeted: "... When will [the] ANC just come out and say, "You disgust us because you&39;re a woman?" (see below).

In their statement today, the Office of the ANC Chief Whip said Jeffery&39;s comment was intended as a pun.

It&39;s understood a point of order has been noted against Jeffery and that he is expected to withdraw his statement and apologise to Mazibuko at the next convening.

"The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly is scheduled to rule on whether it was parliamentary or not," said spokesman Moloto Mothapo.

"We understand from Jeffery’s explanation that although his reference to Mazibuko during the debate on the Parliament budget vote was a pun, it had more to do with her influence and power associated with the position she holds than her physical weight.

"Jeffery has carefully reflected on the ambiguity of the statement and accepts that they it may have been understood to refer to Mazibuko’s physical outlook."

In his statement to the ANC, Jeffery said Mazibuko&39;s response was "insulting and mischievous".

"The same pun could have been directed at even a male in similar position as Mazibuko," said Mothapo.

Government&39;s guide to Parliament states under its section on Members&39; conduct and decorum in the Chamber, that MPs are allowed: "To dress according to their personal tastes, provided such dress is in accordance with the dignity of the House."

Mothapo said Manamela’s reference to Mazibuko’s dress style was in line with his request that Members of Parliament adhere to a dress code that was "befitting of the decorum of the House".

"We have no desire of playing fashion police in this institution, however, the inappropriate manner in which Mazibuko was dressed yesterday showed total lack of respect to the debate and the decorum of the House."

There is nothing “sexist” or “chauvinistic” about this principle.

Mothapo said while Jeffery would retract his statement, the ANC also wanted the DA to put an end to "their abusive, offensive and sexist language against ANC MPLs."

"The DA’s outcry rings hallow considering its deafening silence when such abuses were directed at ANC MPLs by its representatives in the legislature."

Mothapo was referring to comments Western Cape premier Helen Zille made when she allegedly referred to ANC MPL Zodwa Magwaza as an “elephant”.

DA leader Theuns Botha was also accused of likening ANC MPL Lynne Brown to a “hippopotamus”.