CGE meets with DBE Spokesperson & DG following sexist tweets

Release Date: 10 September 2019

To: Editors, Producers and Reporters

On the 04th September, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) met with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) Spokesperson Mr. Elijah Mhlanga and the Director General (DG) Dr. Mantanzima Mlweli following sexist tweets that the Spokesperson tweeted as part of #readtolead campaign. The CGE was inundated with lots of complaints as a result of those sexist tweets associated with #readtolead.

Following those complaints, the CGE resolved to use section 12(4) b of the CGE Act as amended, to subpoena Mr. Mhlanga and Dr. Mlweli to provide oral submission/before the CGE in response to the sexist tweets and to respond to questions related to the matter.  Dr. Mlweli was subpoenaed to the hearing as the Accounting Officer to explain the role of DBE on the matter.

At the CGE, we believe that the right to education should be fulfilled free from discrimination, objectification and harassment. We further believe that the objectification of women as a marketing strategy contributes to a discriminatory culture where women are hypersexualized and has the power to negatively shape the attitudes of children towards women’s roles in society. Where objectification exists, violence against women is more likely. This is not the society we want to build, and we cannot support this.

It was resolved during the hearing that the Department of Basic Education will furnish the Commission for Gender Equality with the following information on or before the 6th of September 2019:

  • The report issued by Mr. Mhlanga following the alleged incident
  • The report prepared by the Director General in relation to the above-mentioned hearing
  • The Sexual harassment policy of the Department of Basic Education
  • The Department’s External Communication Policy and/or guidelines
  • Details on the #Readtolead campaign

The Department of Basic Education has since submitted the requested documents with the only pending document being:

  • The final outcome of the investigation report as well as the cost implications of the said investigation which is due to the Commission on or before 15 October 2019

The Commission is making a binding recommendation for Mr Elijah Mhlanga to go through a gender-sensitization training. The CGE will also monitor the overall gender transformation including culture within Department of Basic Education.