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South Africa / The World

Basic Education Minister denies knowing about ‘make reading sexy’ campaign


Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga has finally addressed the controversial Read to Lead campaign, whose skewed objective was to encourage young adults and people of school-going age to “make reading sexy.”

What is the ‘make reading sexy’ campaign about?

Officially known as the Read to Lead campaign, Basic Education Dept spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga explained that the essence of using images of nude women was to draw attention to the importance of leisure reading in our society.

However, this explanation, coupled with the tacky execution of the Basic Education Dept’s Rated-R campaign, was absurd, to say the least.

In a series of tweets addressing the matter, Mhlanga noted that:

“The Department’s Read To Lead campaign [is] aimed at promoting reading amongst young adults, people of school-going age and society in general.”

The intention, in Mhlanga’s own words, was to highlight literacy issues faced by South Africans.

He asserted that the decision to take the edgy approach to the campaign was based on the fact that “contemporary audiences that consume media tend to be open about sex and sexuality.”

Reading for leisure is also therapeutic. It relaxes the mind, body and soul. @DBE_SA #ReadtoLead

— Elijah Mhlanga (@ElijahMhlanga) August 10, 2019

Drop All and Read, once a day, pause other activities and read a book. Readers are leaders, they say. @DBE_SA #ReadtoLead

— Elijah Mhlanga (@ElijahMhlanga) August 10, 2019

Basic Education Minister distances herself from campaign

Mhlanga further claimed that the campaign had been running for at least three years, using the same execution. However, according to Basic Education Minister, Motshekga, this tasteless campaign was never signed off by her office.

Quoted in a Herald Live report, Motshekga stated that, in her right mind, she would have never greenlighted a campaign that objectifies women in a country still struggling to get a foothold of gender-based violence.

“As Minister of Basic Education, I didn’t authorise nor was informed of such a campaign involving semi-naked women. Even if I was informed, I wouldn’t have given any permission purely based on the principle that women aren’t objects. The objectification of women is an affront in our battle against the pervasive nature of patriarchy and the scourge of gender-based violence,” she scathingly said.

The Basic Education Minister noted that the objectification of women has no place in our society and those responsible for putting her ministry into disrepute will be dealt with accordingly.

“I have instructed the Accounting Officer of the Department of Basic Education (DG) to institute appropriate action in this regard to ensure that in future, no official engages in folic of their own in the name of the department,” she added.

What will happen to Mhlanga?

While Mhlanga has since apologised for going too far in exposing his extramural interests, it is likely that he will not get away with this one.

For now, he still serves at the Basic Education Dept’s spokesperson. However, a disciplinary process could see him either removed from his position or relocated to another department. Protection Status

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