The argument can’t be that the ANCWL is weak as some men would like to argue. The ANCWL, under the leadership of Bathabile Dlamini, played a leading role in campaigning for comrade Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the 54th National Conference. Although the ANCYL had declared support for her, it wasn’t that active and men in the provinces that were supporting her as leadership did not do much in terms of her campaign.
The most recent conference of the ANC was a milestone for the ANCWL, as it has never happened that a woman contested for the position of the president of the ANC. Dlamini Zuma will go down in history as a woman who took on men in a patriarchal society when it was not fashionable.
Women in the ANC seem to be reduced to being voting cattle and most men will argue that the Constitution does not say that women must emerge among the top officials. Is the ANC really a leader of society if it can’t support the struggle of women? How many women does the ANC have in regions and provinces in the top five?
Even the ANCYL, as it stands, has never had a woman in the presidency to show that indeed women are taken seriously in the movement. Maropene Ramokgopa was the first woman to rise and avail herself for the position of president in the ANCYL in 2014 when it is not fashionable. Unfortunately, that congress was converted to a consultative congress. It is not like women don’t have the capacity to lead the ANC or ANCYL.
When a woman is strong in the ANC, she is called names and is not given a chance to lead in a strategic position. In most cases, this is because the men want to control her and reduce her to a non-starter. Women in the ANC are reduced to voting cattle and nothing else. It seems as if the ANC just accommodates them because it is a constitutional requirement to have 50% of women in the leadership. The struggle of women can’t be a by-the-way or ticking-the-box issue.
Men in the ANC must stop being hypocrites. They must accept that women have a say. They can learn a lot from Thomas Sankara, who said:
“Comrades, there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half the people are held in silence. I hear the roar of women’s silence. I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their revolt.”
I challenge all members of the ANC to rise, as this is not a struggle of women only. The ANC is a non-sexist organisation and it does have progressive men who can rise to the occasion. DM
Rebone Tau, is a former ANCYL NTT member writing in his personal capacity.