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By Lunga Simelane


Call to ANCWL to refocus: New beginning as Tolashe takes helm

The ANCWL elects Nokuzola Tolashe as president, with a focus on bringing women back to the economy and fighting patriarchy.

The election of the new leader of the ANC Woman’s League (ANCWL) may be a new beginning, but the league now needs to work on being custodians of culture, according to an analyst.

The woman’s league hosted its post-conference briefing this week and announced its national executive committee’s (NEC) additional members.

Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and People Living with Disabilities Nokuzola Gladys Sisisi Tolashe is the new ANCWL president.

Tolashe said she understood the ANCWL and what it needed to achieve.

“The consolidation will happen in our last leg of the conference. It will consolidate what exactly we want to say or do and be part of changing people’s lives where we are and making sure we bring our women back to the economy.”

Tolashe rose to national political prominence as the secretary-general of the ANCWL League under its former president Angie Motshekga.

She entered politics through youth organisations in the anti-apartheid movement and served in civic organisations under the United Democratic Front. In the 1980s, she was detained without trial for five years.

Tolashe was a member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature from 2001 to 2008. She was secretary-general from July 2008 until she was ousted in August 2015 and served as a backbencher in the National Assembly from 2016 to 2018.

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Then she was mayor of the Eastern Cape’s Enoch Mgijima local municipality from 2018 to 2019.

She returned to the National Assembly in the 2019 general elections and became deputy minister in the Presidency for women, youth and persons with disabilities this March after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle. Political analyst Goodenough Mashego said:

“Coming into 2024 the ANC needs to reach out to women and have a conversation with them.

“We need to see them fight patriarchy in all its manifestations instead of obsessing with positions inside government.”

Due to time constraints, the conference did not conclude its business and will reconvene at a later stage.