Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has lashed out at the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) after they accused him of degrading women, condemning their “baseless attack of the worst kind of political mudslinging”.
According to KwaZulu-Natal based IsiZulu newspaper Isolezwe, Buthelezi said the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) must ensure that women were thoroughly searched, even underneath their underwear, in a bid to ensure that the electorate was not defrauded at the 2016 Municipal Elections on August 3.
He was speaking in uLundi in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend during his party’s final campaign where he reportedly said he feared that Wednesday’s local government election would be rigged after ballot boxes were stolen from a delivery vehicle in Diepkloof, Soweto, last week.
The ANCWL in KZN said they found Buthelezi’s plea to the IEC “insensitive, disgusting, pedestrian and undermining of the women in the country”.
In a strongly worded statement, Buthelezi denied ever uttering the remarks, saying he was “deeply insulted by the allegations of the ANCWL”.
“From our first campaign speech to our closing rally yesterday, neither the media nor our opponents have found a single reason to attack the IFP,” Buthelezi said.
“This morning a scurrilous report appeared in Isolezwe claiming that I called for women’s ‘private parts’ to be searched at voting stations. I said no such thing.”
But Buthelezi’s denial was dismissed by Zolani Xaba, acting editor of Isolezwe.
“We stand by our reporter, but we were happy to meet with Prince Buthelezi today and offered him the right of reply in our newspaper and are following up on the matter,” Xaba said.
“After a preliminary investigation we’ve found that the reporter did his job diligently and properly recorded what was said by the prince.”
Buthelezi said he visited Isolezwe offices on Monday afternoon with a video of his full speech and challenged both the journalist and the editor to point out where he had made this “outlandish” statement.
“Faced with the simple evidence, Isolezwe had to agree that the report was incorrect. The editor immediately offered to print a retraction in tomorrow’s edition, as well as an apology,” Buthelezi said.
Buthelezi explained that what he said at the closing rally was that, in the past, extra ballot papers were discovered in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga where, upon investigation, the IEC discovered that voters were smuggling pre-marked ballot papers into voting stations and slipping them into the ballot box.
He said these pre-marked ballots were concealed in voters’ clothing, with some women even putting them in their bras.
“This is a simple fact of what the IEC has had to watch for in the past, and something we must be vigilant for in this election,” Buthelezi said.
“If we do not actively seek to prevent electoral fraud and manipulation, this will not be a free and fair election.”
– African News Agency (ANA)