Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has warned that the attacks on him as being sexist by his predecessor Parks Tau could damage his political career as his political party would view him as a liability.
This is in reference to the remark Mashaba had made just after he was installed as mayor in 2016, saying departments were run by girlfriends of politicians under the ANC.
Representing Mashaba, advocate Dali Mpofu said Tau’s remarks constituted defamation as it could harm Mashaba’s reputation as a politician and violate his constitutional right to hold office. It could also affect him personally as he would be viewed as a traitor by citizens, he argued.
Mpofu called for relief that would see Tau retracting his remarks that Mashaba viewed women in senior positions as “prostitutes” and apologising unconditionally. “His right to hold office might be threatened if he becomes a political liability even to his party,” Mpofu said.
Following the DA’s victory against the ANC in 2016 which saw Mashaba elected mayor, he said: “As a matter of urgency I need to do a skills audit, particularly senior management positions to see whether we have the right people running these departments, because we have seen over the years under the ANC government where girlfriends of politicians run departments and so forth. That has to come to an end”.
Following Mashaba’s remarks, Tau - then regional ANC chairperson - addressed the funeral of ANC councillor Nonhlanhla Mthembu and remarked that the city was now led by a person who did not respect women.
“The City of Johannesburg is today led by a man who believes women who are senior executives prostituted themselves to be in the jobs they are in. He says that in fact for them to earn the positions that they are in they had to sleep with the leadership,” Tau said at the time.
Speaking outside the court, Mashaba reiterated he was confident of winning the interim order against Tau, which he said would be followed by the main defamation lawsuit.
“I cannot really see how one can lose a case that is so clear because the statement made is totally unfounded and there isn’t anywhere where I have made a statement that women are prostitutes.
“I have made it very clear when I was asked about this statement and I maintain it,” Mashaba said.
When pressed on what he meant by his remarks by saying women were running departments by being girlfriends of politicians, Mashaba said he did not mean they were prostitutes.
“How do you mix the statement about saying the people are employed on the basis of boyfriends and girlfriends and wives how can you relate this to prostitution. What has prostitution got to do with employment of girlfriends?” Mashaba asked.
Tau did not attend the court hearing.