President decries use of GBV to settle political scores

Thursday, February 20, 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the exchange that unfolded in the National Assembly, where gender-based violence was used as a tool for political debate, was unfortunate and that the House should apologise.   

The President was responding to a debate on his State of the Nation Address (SONA), which took place over the past two days.

The President, who has apologised for the manner in which the “exchange” unfolded, said gender-based violence was a serious societal challenge that should not be used for political point-scoring. 

“… We cannot reflect on this debate without acknowledging the shameful exchanges that took place in this House on the first day of the debate – exchanges which served to politicise and trivialise the national crisis of gender-based violence. 

“At a time when we are called upon as nation to intensify and deepen the struggle to end all forms of violence perpetrated by men against women, the statements made – and the purposes they were intended to serve – were disgraceful. 

“They undermine the resolve that this House demonstrated in its Joint Sitting in September last year to respond to this crisis decisively and swiftly,” he said on Thursday. 

The President was referring to an incident in which ANC MP Boy Mamabolo alleged that EFF leader Julius Malema abused his wife. Malema later made a similar allegation against the President in relation to his first wife. 

“Honourable Malema as the allegation was made against you, I felt for your wife because it was uncalled for. I must say, it was improper. It was not correct for it to be raised and if I can offer an apology to you about this, I would like to because it was uncalled for and Mantwa responded. 

“You have raised the issue of my late former wife Nomazizi. She is not here to respond for herself… We should not resort to using issues such as these, as it was also used against you to politicise and to trivialise an important issue that affects so many women in our country,” he said. 

Progress made in fight against GBV 

The President said government has made progress in improved access to justice for victims and survivors of gender-based violence. 

The South African Police Service has confirmed that all police stations have sexual assault evidence collection kits. 

“They have prioritised backlog cases related to gender-based violence and established the Cold Case Task Team. 

“They have analysed over 3 600 dockets on sexual offences, and more than 60% of these have been reopened for further investigation and referred to the Senior Public Prosecutor for decision,” he said. 

The President said the Departments of Justice and Correctional Services have vetted more than 11 300 government personnel working directly with children and mentally disabled persons since the Emergency Response Action Plan was implemented. 

“We are making progress in establishing a visible and sustained multimedia campaign to raise awareness around gender-based violence and change behaviour. 

“We have appointed 200 social workers and are training health professionals and social service practitioners on post-violence care and trauma debriefing.

“The NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] has identified areas where more Thuthuzela Centres will be established, including Cradock, Kwa-Vuma, Ga-Rankuwa, Paarl and Tzaneen.” 

He said government is making progress on the economic inclusion of women through programmes like the SheTrades initiative, the efforts of various departments to ensure that 40% of procurement goes to women, and the prioritisation of women as beneficiaries of land reform programmes. –

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