THE PRESIDENT of the Wits Debating Union (WDU) has been banned from a tournament in Durban following allegations of sexism.
The Howard College Debating Union (HCDU) executive committee banned WDU President Jamie Mighti from participating in its second annual debating tournament on April 26 after receiving an anonymous complaint.
Mighti was accused of making sexist remarks on the Nationals 2011 Facebook page towards HCDU members Kimera Chetty and Lindelwe Dube.
The war of words began when Chetty posted a comment on Facebook about the Jozi Rumble, a debating tournament hosted by WDU earlier this month. Chetty asked about television coverage of the tournament, which she said had been promised by Mighti.
“Hey Jamie, which channel can we catch the syndication of the Jozi rumble debates? #excited,” Chetty posted.
Mighti responded to Chetty with a post accusing her of using sexual favours to succeed in debate and saying she had a “flat bum”.
“You can sleep your way to the top but how will you sleep your way to this?” wrote Mighti. “Do you know what your mother wishes…that she had done better, than having a cry baby for a duaghter [sic]”.
Chetty fired back against Mighti on Facebook calling him sexist and arrogant.
“I am VERY glad that everyone is getting to see you for the sexist creep you are,” wrote Chetty. “Your problem is that for all your arrogance and general self-arse-kissery, you have trouble dealing with things directed specifically at *you*.
Lindelwe Dube then joined the Facebook conversation to defend Chetty:
“We all know Kimera or anyone who does well in our community didn’t sleep their way to the top. I for one was on my way to beating the crap out of Jamie for the statement he said about Kimera,” she wrote.
Mighti responded to Lindelwe Dube’s comment by claiming she was bitter because he had refused her advances. “If you went to gym more, who knows what could have happened, let go of the KFC girl.”
Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that Chetty’s comments were attempts to undermine the work the WDU had done in hosting a successful tournament. “In that post she was trying to ridicule and mock the tournament,” explained Mighti.
He added that his online argument with Chetty was not an isolated incident. “Me and Kemira have had many, many differences over the years…and even on that wall [The Nationals 2011 Facebook Page] there we have many interactions where we will shout at each other.”
Wits Vuvuzela tried to reach Chetty for comment but received no response.
In an official email to the WDU, the HCDU executive committee announced Mighti’s exclusion from the tournament. “Due to Jamie’s utterances on FB page, he falls into that category of individual that the HCDU wishes to dissociate itself from. This ban is applicable only to Jamie and does not attach itself to WDU,” read the email.
Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that he felt his comments should not reflect badly on the WDU and said he acted out of anger and frustration. He also turned to Facebook to offer apologies to Chetty and Lindelwa Dube. However, he denied that his comments were sexist or untruthful.
“I am sorry I called Lindelwe fat, this was a hurtful thing for me to say, I do not think it was sexist,” Mighti wrote.”I am sorry I said Kimera slept her way to the top, I have no business discussing people’s sexual histories or calling them names. I did not in any way ever mean that WOMEN are as a group incapable of making it on their own and that they can’t do anything.”
“In a moment of anger I also said something about her, which is not untrue but also very hurtful,” said Mighti.
Mighti wrote that he hoped to find a way to move past the dispute with Chetty and Lindelwa Dube. The WDU has since decided to withdraw from attending the tournament. WDU Treasurer Gwinyani Dube said a double-standard had been applied to Mighti as the two HCDU debaters had not been suspended despite having also made insults.
Gwinyani Dube defended Mighti from accusations of sexism and said they were a matter of “perception”.
“The idea of sexism largely relies on perception. We as a union…don’t view the insults as sexist but rather a personal insult that has been inflated into a broader woman-based issue,” Gwinyai Dube said.
Mighti said that the exclusion from the tournament would not affect the WDU’s ranking as number one in Africa and 23rd in the world. The tournament hosted by HCDU was a friendly and not mandatory to attend, he added.