The police minister tried to make light of his sexist faux pas.
Addressing the media at Nasrec in Johannesburg on the outcomes of the ANC’s discussions around unity at its fifth policy conference, national executive committee member Fikile Mbalula said his party would be part of moves to be more transparent around how its members make their money.
He was partly answering a question around whether the ANC agreed with Human Settlements Minister that ANC members found guilty of involvement in the Gupta leaks scandal should be expelled.
Mbalula said he agreed that the ANC was “looking into” the question of regulating people involved in business.
“We can’t say to society ‘arrest and investigate all those who’ve got questionable wealth’ and members of the ANC are excluded from that. It cannot be.
“It starts with us first … society expects us to lead by example.
He went on: “You know now with parliament, we are being asked to declare everything. The only thing left is, if you’ve got concubines … that’s not what you are supposed to declare.
“We declare everything!”
When the gallery responded with laughter and protest at what had come across as a clearly sexist comment, the minister hurriedly tried to backtrack and spin the statement.
“No, no, no, I’m just making an example. Concubines, by the way, does not mean only a man. It could also mean a woman. A woman can have a [lover] outside.”
The dictionary, however, defines ‘concubine’ as only referring to a woman “who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives”.
The minister has often been accused of making sexist comments in the past.
He tried to joke that declaring lovers would probably also become mandatory in future.
Mbalula said all these demands for declarations was “very painful” for those opposed to it but they “make us to move straight”.
He had earlier given an overview of the party’s discussions around unity at the conference, in which he clarified that the ANC viewed “white monopoly capital” as an historical term, but the party was not opposed to “capital” as such but was opposed to monopolies in business, regardless of which group might be exerting such a monopoly.
He also said that the people who had been making threats against journalists this week would be arrested.