Many ANC leaders are failing to speak out about gender equality because they are just protecting their positions, Ambassador Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini has said.
“We cannot rely on the [ANC] Women’s League because it’s part of the ANC,” she said.
“We have to find a way of building a new cadre, even within the women’s league itself, who will be able to take up very difficult issues raised in this discussion,” she told an Umrabulo Roundtable online discussion on non-sexism on Sunday.
Myakayaka-Manzini, who previously served as deputy president in the women’s league, said the women who led the fight for gender equality in the past had a very difficult job.
“The women who led us in the past, they did this through tears. We need those tears at the moment.”
Myakayaka-Manzini, who was last year appointed to the Post Office Board, said it was difficult for women to raise the issue of emancipation and gender equality. “Those women who raised it were called divisive, but they continued to push.”
She added while she believed the ANC had done its bit, it could not just be the task of the governing party to continue with the struggle for women’s emancipation, but a broader gender liberation movement should push for this.
“Commitment, dedication at this moment in time is lacking and this is maybe why some of this implementation is not happening in the ANC or in government,” Myakayka-Manzini said in relation to gender policies.
“It is a difficult issue, this issue of emancipation gender relations because it hinges on the total transformation of our country and that transformation is economic liberation of our country and total decolonisation.”
She added: “The ANC is a mass movement. It has all those characters in it, and in the name of unity and progress we put people in various positions in the ANC in order to achieve this unity.”
Myakayaka-Manzini said the ANC at its upcoming national general council, scheduled to happen in a hybrid sitting in May, should be discussing how to produce “new cadres” who, in leadership positions, could focus on practical gender needs, like education and health.
South African Ambassador to Spain Thenjiwe Mtintso, in the comments sections, added the party “is still using an add-on on gender”, meaning the issue of gender equality was mentioned in a few paragraphs in, for example, the State of the Nation Address, without there being “a thoroughgoing gender perspective in whatever we do or say”.