Speaker Shongwe destroy women rights

Jane Sithole, MPL

Chief Whip of the Official Opposition in Mpumalanga Legislature:

I am very disturbed and saddened by the recent conduct of the Speaker of Mpumalanga’s legislature Honourable Blessing Thandi Shongwe.

It concerns me as a woman that she condoned the utterances and behaviour displayed by ANC MPL Vusumuzi Victor Windvoel during a sitting yesterday.

The Honourable Windvoël, objected to my dress code and the Speaker immediately ruled that my dress was too revealing to be worn in the house and that it was not in line with the decorum of the house. (Click here for photo)

Instead of the Speaker protecting my dignity as a woman, she entertained their sexual innuendos and attacked me from the presiding officer seat.  This conduct by the Speaker Shongwe clearly indicates that she has little regard for the rights and dignity of women as the presiding officer in the Legislature.  Her biasness clouded her judgement when she agreed with the point of order raised by Honourable Windvoël, who also compared it to a dress worn by prostitutes.

The Speakers ruling implies that she agrees that I was dressed like a prostitute. This is shameful coming from a woman who’s organisation claims to promote the rights and dignity of all women in South Africa

Chapter 2 of our constitution paragraph 7 (1) affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom of every South African, irrespective of their political affiliation.

I strongly believe that the attack was not fair and that the Speaker allowed it because it was not just a woman who was attacked, it was a woman from the Democratic Alliance.

As the Speaker, she is supposed to be neutral and protect all members of the house from such unbecoming behaviour from other members.  However, she failed to do her duty in terms of Rule 47(1) of the Legislature Rules and Orders, which requires of her to preside over the proceedings of the legislature in a fair and impartial manner and protect the rights, privileges and integrity of the house and its members.

I will today write to the Commission for gender equality to formally lodge a complaint and to stop this kind of oppression by the Speaker to other women, just because they are from a different political party.

Please click here for a personal interview with Jane Sithole, MPL on the issue.