Johannesburg – ANC leaders have defended the party’s youth league national task team spokesperson Sizophila Mkhize, after she was barred from last week’s national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla for allegedly being inappropriately dressed.
ANC NEC member Thandi Mahambehlala, who is the ANC Youth League national task team’s convenor, said on Thursday ANC officials were dissatisfied with the treatment meted out to Mkhize.
“We believe that the ANC is our home, a home for women, and when people look at women in the ranks of the ANC they should not undress them,” she said.
“We are allowed to wear whatever we want to wear in the ANC and at any gatherings of the ANC,” she said.
Mahambehlala added that their condemnation should not mean that women in the ANC should come to party events dressed like Zodwa Wabantu, the popular entertainer famous for wearing revealing clothes and performing raunchy dance moves.
She defended Mkhize, saying she was not dressed inappropriately.
“The dress was very long in my understanding… unless the ANC wants us to come as oomakoti abasandotshatwa ngamadoda banxibe izishweshwe eziphel’emaqatheni (newly-married women wearing ankle-length shweshwe dresses).”
Mahambehlala said women in the ruling party refused to be told what to wear.
“We are members of the ANC, we have rights and we can wear our short pants and shorts and come to meetings because it is a political ideology that matters the most, not dress sense. People must just close their eyes and look at us as brothers and sisters. That’s the ANC we grew up in.”
Mahambahlala said women in the ANC did not want to be regarded as sex objects.
Mkhize complained that she was prevented from entering the venue for the lekgotla in Irene, Tshwane, by an ANC staffer who told her that her dress was too short.
Sibongile Besani, an NEC member and the task team’s co-ordinator, also weighed in on the treatment Mkhize was subjected to at the gathering.
”The ANC has a membership that is free to express itself, therefore, we will not, as the leadership of the task team, allow a situation where the dress code of young women and women, in general, is sexualised. We will not condone that kind of attitude, whether it comes from leadership within the ranks of the liberation movement or from an individual,” Besani said.