Maybe there might be some merit in legalising polyandry

South Africa’s frail masculinities can relax, polyandry is not the government’s official position, it’s just a thought. That’s is the word from Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in the House this week as he presented his budget.

He sounded a tad exasperated at the media’s coverage of the department’s Green Paper but like many a politician before him, he might have been guilty of shooting the messenger. As salty former news editor Ray Joseph was wont to say, you can’t make this shit up. You certainly can’t make up ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, whose response to suggestions of polyandry – which to be honest very few of us could even spell or even less tell you what it meant until last week – was downright antediluvian.

The man of the Word seems fixated on the old testament part of his Book; the same part that says you can’t play rugby if the bladder’s made of pig skin or lie with another man, or you’ll get stoned – and not in the new Concourt approved version either. With a statement that fixated on a potential crisis in his mind of multiple men all wanting to shag their shared wife on the same night it’s difficult to even believe that he actually has electricity in his house – and certainly not modern conveniences like streaming TV and especially HBO. 

There are many others like him though – they’re the ones that think the COVID vaccine will be an intravenous shot of Bill Gates or the Devil. Many think they’re one and the same. What the media did get wrong was the almost total failure to ask women what they think about having multiple husbands. It’s fairly obvious what most South African men want, although those who are married will say it’s hard enough keeping up with one wife. 

Given our rate of deadbeat dads, absent fathers and abusive husbands, maybe there might be some merit in legalising polyandry. Maybe women want more than one guy; one to do the garden, one to cook and one to make the bed, literally and figuratively. We won’t know because no one deigned to ask them. Instead, it was the polygamists who seemed to make the most noise.

In the immortal words of CR, they should just shut up. They should know better. Marriage is expensive, multiple marriages exponentially more. You only have to ask the erstwhile father of the nation, in title and in deed, who found himself in the dock in Pietermaritzburg this week precisely because of his priapism.

Desperate for his day in court after 15 years of doing everything possible to avoid it, Jacob Zuma had no sooner sat down than his legal team announced he’d only plead next week – after they’d applied for veteran prosecutor Billy Downer to be recused. Downer’s crime? A ‘vendetta’ against the accused. You’d have thought that’s what you want in a prosecutor, an indefatigable determination at great personal cost to get their man, as it were.

It’s obviously an abhorrent concept to some of us though, as repugnant as letting women be able to have multiple legal partners.

Originally published by the Saturday Star on 22 May 2021.