Two newly formed political parties are putting women at the top of their agendas in the race to this year’s national election.
This as polls this week suggested the ruling ANC and official opposition the Democratic Alliance (DA) are set to shed votes to the burgeoning cluster of smaller parties in the race.
Not least among them are two parties born of woman leaders who exited the two biggest parties in the country, having expressed the feeling of being targeted and undermined because of their gender.
Dr Makhosi Khoza recently rejoined African Democratic Change (ADC), the party she helped form in 2017 after resigning as an ANC MP, just a few months after former Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille quit the DA to form her party, Good, this year.
One of the biggest blind spots these political leaders highlighted was the way political organisations created the illusion of being in touch with the socioeconomic needs of women, by naming and creating ill-guided leagues, guilds and wings on behalf of all women, instead of having them at the core of their policies and practices.
“Many political parties speak about women and women’s rights and they have got this women’s wing or youth wing,” lamented De Lille.
“It is almost like they are second-hand issues. Anything that has to do with women goes to the women’s league or wing. We [Good] are not going that route. We are incorporating in the mainstream core policies and actions that we are doing.
“The youth and the women are being heard there. So, unlike other parties that just talk about women, we have got women in our top leadership because that is where women need to be in the first place.”
Khoza echoed this frustration with an apparent focus on window-dressing and populism in favour of real empowerment for women.
“If you remember not long ago what Bathabile Dlamini and the [ANC] Women’s League did when that young woman [Karabo Mokoena] was killed – going to her house posing for pictures with groceries. That had nothing to do with helping a family grieve or with gender-based violence or anything. I mean, that is typical of a populists,” she said.
But these two political parties have very little in common, despite having women at the helm.
For one thing, De Lille wants to solve the land restitution issue by proving that it was not the system that was broken, but the people who ran it. One of the party’s boldest promises was to speed up land restitution as a means to reduce inequality in land ownership.
“I was there when we wrote the preliminary constitution and the final constitution. There is no need to change section 25 of the constitution. The constitution already makes way for expropriation,” she said.