Top Education Dept official in hot water over lewd tweets

14:10 (GMT+2) Wed, 14 Aug 2019

Parliament's portfolio committee on education has condemned tweets of semi-naked women posted by Department of Basic Education spokesman Elijah Mhlanga for the 'Read to Learn' campaign, saying they were inappropriate and objectified women.

Mhlanga posted a series of suggestive photographs of women reading over the weekend, urging people to read books as part of the department's campaign.

But, committee chairperson, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, said the pictures sent a wrong message to the public.

"Mr Elijah Mhlanga’s approach to the Read to Lead campaign for the basic education sector misses his target market completely and does more harm than good. Furthermore, South Africa has made big strides since the dawn of democracy in the emancipation of women," said Mbingo-Gigaba.

She also noted that Mhlanga had first tried to justify his tweets and then apologised.

The tweets drew widespread condemnation on Twitter.

One photograph depicting a naked woman reading while lying on the bed was captioned "Let's make reading sexy. Do it as a habit. You can do it every day. It feels good when you get into it. #ReadToLearn."

Another tweet posted read: "Reading for leisure is also therapeutic. It relaxes the mind, body and soul."

Mhlanga initially defended the tweets, saying he was happy he got Twitter users attention, adding that he promoted the campaign over the past three years using the same images.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga distanced herself and her department from the tweets, labelling them as "sexist." 

She said she has instructed the department's director-general to institute appropriate action against Mhlanga.

- African News Agency (ANA)