Speaker Shongwe apologises for discriminatory dress ruling

By Jane Sithole, MPL, DA Chief Whip in Mpumalanga Legislature:

Today, after thorough Democratic Alliance pressure, Speaker Thandi Shongwe has officially apologised for her attack on the dignity of DA Chief Whip Jane Sithole in the Mpumalanga Legislature in March. This is the first sitting the Speaker has attended since the incident took place.

Honourable Windvoël was also requested by the Speaker to withdraw his remarks, which he did.

On 31 March 2015, during a legislature sitting, ANC member Mr. Windvoël, objected to the dress worn by Jane Sithole calling it a “sex-worker dress”, and the Speaker immediately ruled that the 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 the dignity of women, she entertained sexual innuendos and furthered the attack on Sithole, from the presiding officer chair.

The DA has taken steps to officially complain against this ruling, in defence of the rights of women, and against the discrimination of the Speaker, with the following bodies:-

  1. The Gender Commission of South Africa,
  2. The Office of the Speaker of the Mpumalanga Legislature, where we handed over a

Memorandum of demands,

  1. The Human Rights Commission of South Africa,
  2. The Premier of Mpumalanga (see response here)
  3. The ANC Women’s League

After the ruling the DA held a march of more than 400 South Africans who shared our disgust for this ruling, to the Legislature on the to hand over a memorandum to the Speaker.

Today was a victory for all women, of all races, no matter their education, their qualifications or their political preferences.  Women have the right to make their own choices, they have the right to be treated with dignity and they certainly have the right to be respected.