The ANC has failed to produce a married and feminist president after 110 years of existence, instead settling for the first female treasurer-general: Patriarchy must fall! – SABC News

By Dr. Fikile Vilakazi

The ANC remains a hetero-patriarchal political party after 110 years of existence. It is the biggest liberation movement in Africa that I believe has the responsibility to sing a way forward in terms of womxn participation.

LGBTIQA+ and gender non-conforming people in political power on the African continent given the South African constitution and its affirmations of gender and sexuality rights. Charlotte Maxeke was the first woman to challenge the ANC to include women in its political ranks, after a long painful struggle of patriarchal exclusion and oppression of women within the African National Congress when it was formed in 1912.

We know that Charlotte Maxeke and others had to form the Bantu Women’s League as a result, which operated on the floor of the ANC for some time before women were allowed to join the ANC. The situation of subservience to patriarchy continued over time where our mothers, sisters, daughters and aunts would never be seen as capable of political articulation and power sharing with male colleagues within the ANC.

We see this in the way women have never had the opportunity to join strategic leadership positions such as the top 6, a decision-making structure between conferences, for a long time until very recently when the late Jessie Duarte emerged as the Deputy Secretary General of Ace Magashule who was removed due to allegations of corruption by the Zondo Commission Report.

Of course, we saw at the ANC’s 2022 Electoral Conference the induction of Gwen Ramokgopa as Treasurer General for the first time, followed by the induction of Nomvula Mokonyane and Maropene Ramokgopa, making it a historic trio that ensured 42% female representation in the structure of the ANC’s Top 7 for the first time in 110 years of existence.

This is commendable, although it may be threatened by the Zondo Commission’s findings against Nomvula Mokonyane if she is charged based on the BOSASA corruption allegations hanging over her head.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front under President Paul Kagame leads Africa with more than 50% representation of women in political institutions, so the ANC can do better, noting that it is the longest-running liberation movement on the African continent.

The SADC Gender Protocol Barometer published in 2020 by Gender Links shows that women Speakers/Speakers of Parliament in the SADC region have decreased from 40% in 2018 to 35% in 2019. South Africa is clearly involved in that the country has never had a female and/or feminist president since colonization, except when the late Queen Elizabeth was head of state when South Africa was under British colonization.

She is the only woman to have ever served as South Africa’s head of state. Why? Phumzile Mlabo-Ngcuka followed as Deputy President under President Thabo Mbeki and that is all the ANC has to offer South Africa.

We can do better. Patriarchy must fall!. This needs to change mainly because our mothers, sisters, daughters and aunts are capable leaders in their own right. Albertina Sisulu was the only woman present at the creation of the ANC Youth League.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has led the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and some ministries in the country, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has led UN Women in Geneva and New York. Lindiwe Sisulu leads at ministerial level and other portfolios.

Thandi Modise was also nominated by the Women’s League for the position of Vice President at the 55th National Electoral Conference in 2022, but she did not reach the required threshold of voters.

Why? Why do ANC branches have no confidence in ANC women’s leadership after 110 years? What is the reason for this marginalization of womxn power in ANC politics? These questions are asked in view of the fact that women in the ANC are experienced politicians who led side by side during uMkhonto weSizwe right up to the liberation of South Africa from apartheid. The women’s prison on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg is a testament to their experiences, torture, battles and abilities to defend South Africa.

The March Against the Gaps of 1956 was another incident that demonstrated this ability. What has gone wrong over the years? Well, the time has come for a female president of South Africa.

Unfortunately, the ANC has once again failed to produce a female and/or feminist president for the country. Clearly, there is still a long way to go to eradicate patriarchy in the ANC. Womxn within the ANC are alone. Fikile Mbalula, the secretary-general of the ANC, told those who refused to bow to his authority and refused to toe the line of democratic centralism to go and form their own parties.

I guess that includes the likes of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu. This is not surprising as Nelson Mandela told Peter Mokaba the same thing a few years ago. We’ve been here before, and how long are we really going to stand and watch as spectators?

Glossary of terms

Womxn: In the context of this article, includes variations of women as evolving from the stereotypical and traditional notions of femininity in society. It therefore includes cis-gender women (those whose gender matches their biological makeup at birth), trans-women (those who have transitioned from their original biological makeup to align with their preferred gender identity and expression, and those who are biologically constructed at birth may assume male or female, but their own preferred gender identity and expression is that of gender nonconforming.

Her historical: in the context of this article refers to the recognition of women’s stories in the same way as history, which is seen as focusing primarily on the stories of men in society. So her story also recognizes the value of women in what is commonly called and taken for granted as history to ensure that the term is linguistically born to include her stories as well. The essence of the meaning lies in the pronoun his and hers in the word story. It can also be expanded linguistically to include their history of gender non-conforming people, including transgender identities and expressions.

Dr Fikile Vilakazi, Policy Analyst, International and Public Affairs Cluster, School of Social Sciences, University of KwaZulu Natal

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