14 May 2018

Zimbabwe: Nelson Chamisa Thinks Women Are Chattel for Politicians to Barter With

Nelson Chamisa, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, made such inappropriate gender remarks during his recent election campaign that Zimbabweans are questioning his leadership ability

While addressing Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters in the United Kingdom, Chamisa predicted "a crashing defeat" for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In a video he is pictured as saying, "If Mnangagwa wins 5% in a free election, I will give him my sister. I have a sister who just turned 18 and is looking for a husband. I am betting on this because I know it won't happen."

Although some dismissed his remarks as a "harmless", others condemned Chamisa for his words, which they felt were misogynistic and disrespectful of women. The comments seemed to echo the attitude towards women in a country where one in every three girls experiences sexual violence before they turn 18 and 78% of women report that their husbands or intimate partners were the perpetrators

The apology

After the onslaught of disapproval, Chamisa told BBC, "What's disrespectful? She is the one who is looking for a husband. She is my sister; there is no sexism there. As far as I am concerned, it is part of our culture. When your sister is about to get married, as a brother, you must help her."

However, Chamisa has since apologised for his remark. According to News24, he claimed that although he was not sure why people took offence at his joke, he was "sincerely sorry" to those he "may have hurt".

Read: "My sexist joke was taken out of context," says aspirant Zimbabwean president Nelson Chamisa

He said that the joke was an "illustration" of the ruling ZANU-PF's inability to "win in a free and fair election".

"If anyone felt hurt by the joke, I am sorry. It was just political banter to illustrate that even if I promised to give him [Mnangagwa] my most prized possession, he would still not be able to defeat us in a free and fair election," Chamisa said.

"The joke should have been a non-issue, because most Zimbabweans are worried about issues of survival. This is just a sideshow that is being used by irrelevant people to score cheap political points at my expense," he continued.

His BBC HardTalk interview also gave insight into many inconsistencies in his rhetoric so far, placing his fitness to lead in even more doubt.

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