For many generations, South African (and indeed African) women were expected to take the back seat and play a purely domestic role in society. Over the years however, women have defied this stereotype and proven that they are capable of holding their own against their male counterparts in every field, even with the odds stacked against them. For this reason, I find it sad that South Africa’s FOUR first ladies are not using their privileged positions to advance the cause of women is SA or any other political agendas of their own.
Apart from Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, who appears to be involved in a few initiatives, there is very little information or media coverage about what they are actively doing for the country. Either they are doing things that the media chooses not to report on or they are not involved in any social/community development programmes out of choice. In any case I don’t get how you can have such intimate access to the number one citizen of the country but choose not to use that influence to effect change in your community or your country.
The First Lady role is a tricky one as it has no official job description or constitutional mandate. But seeing that they get pocket money from our taxes (Spousal support of R15 517 500 per year according to this article for all four combined), the same pocket money they use to splurge on expensive luxuries, maybe we are very well within our rights to expect more participation from them.
First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama is an example of the ideal first lady. Amongst other things, Michelle Obama has the Let’s Move! campaign which tackles the issue of childhood obesity and nutrition. See how easy it is MaKhumalo?
As much as I hate that they are inactive, it’s also important to consider their reality and the fact that these women are from a different generation. A generation that expects women to be docile so comparing them to America’s first lady is rather unfair and contextually inappropriate.
Perhaps if they were doing something visibly tangible in the country, we would stop looking at the fact that Zuma has 4 wives as a problem but a blessing.
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