South Africa’s political sex scandals

By Globe Afrique Research and Analysis |

Boys will be boys, and women must be unshakeable. (Photo Credit – AP)

The political rumor mill would have South Africans believe that the next man to lead the country is a sugar daddy, or locally known as a “blesser.”

In South Africa, political sex scandals don’t hurt powerful men, just the women entangled in them

“Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose presidential campaign is modeled on moral and ethical leadership, appears not to practice what he preaches,” read the Sunday Independent newspaper’s Sept. 3 lead in what is the latest sex scandal starring a South African politician.

South Africa is an outwardly conservative society in which the family unit is the foundation. Rampahosa, long seen as South Africa’s president-in-waiting, is just the latest in a long string of politically powerful men embroiled in a scandal where women are the victims, ranging from extra-marital affairs to the graver accusations of sexual harassment and battery. South Africa is an outwardly conservative society in which the family unit is the foundation. There is also a strong undercurrent of patriarchy that ensures that the scandalous behavior of powerful men does not affect their standing in society.

Moralizing over the salacious details of Ramaphosa’s alleged extra-marital affairs may have caused a stir for a moment in the news cycle, but his bid for the presidency remains strong. Instead, as in previous cases, it is the women dragged into these scandals who are most affected.

The most infamous example remains the young women who accused President Jacob Zuma of rape in 2007. She was attacked by the party’s women’s league and eventually hounded out of the country after he was acquitted. The woman, dubbed Khwezi in an attempt to protect her identity, died last year at the age of 41, but her experience has set the tone for how women used in political scandals will be treated.

Ramaphosa is likely the victim of a political smear campaign that cynically taps into the public shame of South African society—the high rates of violence against and exploitation of women, says essayist Sisonke Msimang. “Gender issues are always collateral damage,” says Msimang. “Time and again what we see is women used in these wars between men.”

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Source: Globe Afrique/ Lynsey Chutel – culled from Quartz Africa

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About Cholo Brooks 17213 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.