Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has just witnessed blatant sexism on her doorstep. The Zimbabwe president, Robert Mugabe, castigated Lindiwe Zulu, a top South African diplomat, as an "idiotic street woman" and urged his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, "to stop this woman of theirs from speaking on Zimbabwe". Far from challenging Mugabe's crude chauvinism, Zuma publicly distanced himself from Zulu and gagged her.
"I thought it was really unfortunate because she's there as a professional," Mlambo-Ngcuka says. "Her gender is neither here nor there." And South Africa's response? "I think they should have nuanced it differently," she replies, diplomatically.