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Ramaphosa ally Sisisi Tolashe beats Bathabile Dlamini to be elected as ANCWL president

Ramaphosa ally Sisisi Tolashe beats Bathabile Dlamini to be elected as ANCWL president
From left: Former ANC Women’s League leader Bathabile Dlamini. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | New ANC Women’s League president and Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Sisisi Tolashe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Vathiswa Ruselo)

Bathabile Dlamini failed to garner enough support to be re-elected as ANC Women’s League president, leaving Sisisi Tolashe and her slate to win in a clean sweep.

The ANC Women’s League conference elected new leadership at the weekend which saw Sisisi Tolashe take over the reins. The league’s former leader Bathabile Dlamini, who once enjoyed significant support from members, managed to get only 170 votes.

The first sign of Dlamini’s demise was her obvious non-alignment with ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s faction in the party, which gave Tolashe, who is also a deputy minister in the Presidency, the upper hand.

Tolashe was elected with 1,756 votes from the 2,962 delegates gathered at the conference, which was held at Nasrec, Johannesburg.

Another sign was when Dlamini’s close allies, such as Sisi Ntombela, decided to pull out of the leadership race at the 11th hour. Ntombela previously served as Dlamini’s deputy in the ANCWL and was also vying for re-election.

Dlamini was also approached by Thembeka Mchunu, who is seen as one of Ramaphosa’s allies, and her lobbyists at the last minute in an effort to persuade her to withdraw from the contest and join forces to take on Tolashe instead.

This followed a decision by KwaZulu-Natal branch delegates who decided to ditch Dlamini and vote for Mchunu. It dealt a blow to Dlamini’s campaign as KwaZulu-Natal had the highest numbers, with 588 delegates, followed by Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

They were not able to broker the deal, which could have seen Tolashe facing stronger opposition.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Bathabile Dlamini and Sisisi Tolashe set to vie for top post in ANCWL elections next month

The new ANCWL leadership elected at the conference also comprises Deputy President Lungi Gcabashe, Secretary-General Nokuthula Nqaba, Deputy Secretary-General Dina Pule and Treasurer-General Maqueen Letsoha-Mathae.

Pule was the only candidate who was nominated from the floor. She comes back to the forefront of politics years after she was axed as communications minister, which was prompted by her involvement in the ICT Indaba scandal in 2012.

Speaking after the announcement of the new ANCWL leadership on Sunday, Ramaphosa encouraged the league to fiercely champion the rights of women and to never allow men in the party to impose themselves on their affairs.

“Young women must be able to stay in school, proceed to higher education and study what they want. Young women should participate equally in any industry they want. You as the ANCWL must make sure that women in this country have access to financial resources. We must be promoting that there must be accessibility for women to occupy higher-paying jobs and get top positions,” he said.

On Sunday evening, the league was yet to elect 40 additional members to its National Executive Committee. The results are likely to be announced on Monday.

Four facts about Sisisi Tolashe

  • She is from the small town of Komani, Kwa Mlungisi township, in Eastern Cape and started her activism as a member of the Congress of South African Students. She was detained without trial for five years for her work as an anti-apartheid activist.
  • She previously served as the ANCWL Eastern Cape provincial chair and secretary and later as secretary-general of the national ANCWL.
  • She was first sworn in as an MP in 2016 and is the minister in the Presidency responsible for women, youth and persons with disabilities.
  • She was once the executive mayor of the embattled Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape. DM

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