‘Naked Display Of Male Chauvinism’ – Motshekga Sees Red Over Sexy Read To Lead Tweets By DBE Spokesperson

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Riyaz Patel

The Basic Education Minister has distanced herself and the department from a series of so-called “sexy” tweets in which departmental spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, used sultry images of women to promote the department’s Read to Lead campaign. 

In his tweets, Mhlanga captions pictures of scantily clad women reading with comments that it is “therapeutic,” “relaxes the mind, body, and soul” and “feels good.”

Mhlanga tagged the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and hash tagged Read to Lead, which is a DBE campaign. 

“I distance both the Ministry I lead and the Department of Basic Education from this naked display of male chauvinism. The objectification women has no place anywhere in our society let alone in our quest to promote reading,” Angie Motshekga said.

“As Minister of Basic Education, I didn’t authorise nor was informed of such a campaign involving semi-naked women. Even if I was informed, I wouldn’t have given any permission purely based on principle that women aren’t objects. The objectification of women is an affront in our battle against the pervasive nature of patriarchy and the scourge of gender based violence,” the Basic Education Minister added.

Motshekga said she has instructed her DG to institute “appropriate action in this regard to ensure that in future, no official engages in frolic of their own in the name of the department.”

“Thoughtless, sexist, and chauvinist” approach to a worthy and noble campaign.”

Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba – chairperson, Parliament’s portfolio committee on Basic Education

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education also condemned the tweets and accompanying sultry images published by the DBE spokesperson.

Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba urged the department to take drastic action again Mhlanga for what she called a “thoughtless, sexist, and chauvinist” approach to a worthy and noble campaign.

Mbinqo-Gigaba said the tweets “objectify women” in a campaign that is meant to encourage learners to read in order to lead.

She said the committee would, as part of its oversight responsibilities, take up the matter with the department when it met again during its next scheduled meeting.

While Mhlanga has apologized, he, did so by defending his ‘sexy’ images, saying he’d posted similar images before without any backlash.

He added that by doing so, he had “started a discourse on reading.”

“While Mr Mhlanga apologised to ‘sensitive viewers’, his apology only served to highlight that he failed to grasp the substance of the complaints. It is deeply concerning that this patriarchal view is espoused by a government department spokesperson, particularly a department that has such power to shape young South Africans,” Christine Hobden, philosophy lecturer at the University of Fort Hare, told The Daily Vox.

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