ANCWL defies Mantashe and pushes for a woman president

ANCWL treasurer general Maite Nkoana Mashabane. (Oupa Nkosi, MG)

ANCWL treasurer general Maite Nkoana Mashabane. (Oupa Nkosi, MG)

The ANC Women’s League is pushing ahead with its campaign to have a woman candidate replace president Jacob Zuma as ANC president in 2017 and that of the country in 2019.

This is despite a warning issued by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe to members to desist from debating leadership as it had the potential to cause divisions within the organisation.

Addressing journalists on the eve of the ANC’s national general council at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, ANCWL treasurer general Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the time was ripe for women to ascend to top leadership positions, including that of president in the ANC. 

“The time has come for women leadership to be acknowledged.  We are not asking. We are saying the time is ripe,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Until recently, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was widely expected to take over from Zuma as ANC president in line with the party’s long-held tradition. But the ANCWL, the ANC Youth League and the ANC Veterans League are pushing for a woman candidate to be elected as ANC president. The leagues are supported by the so-called premier league, which consist of premiers from Mpumalanga, Free State and North West. Nkoana-Mashabane said it was an insult to suggest the ANCWL’s league was used by the premier league to push for a woman president.

“You must convey a message to those who are saying we are used by the ANCWL that that’s an insult.

“We are adults. We have role models like Mme Ruth Mompati and others [who have contributed to our struggle],” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Her sentiments were shared by ANCWL secretary general Meokgo Matuba.

“We don’t know a structure called premier league. We [the new ANCWL leadership] were elected by a properly constituted conference,” said Matuba.

Ramaphosa is expected to enjoy support from Gauteng, Limpopo, Northern Cape and part of the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. The South African Communist Party is believed to be in support of Ramaphosa as president and Mantashe as deputy president, while Cosatu is likely to remain neutral this time around.

African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete are among the preferred candidates of the ANCWL to take over the ANC’s top position.

ANCWL national spokesperson and deputy minister of tourism Tokozile Xasa said the league would not raise the succession issue during this week’s NGC, but it would be on its agenda going into the ANC’s elective conference in 2017.

“Whoever becomes president in 2017 will be president of the entire organisation [ANC]. We are saying women are ready for a woman president. But it is not on our agenda for the NGC. What is on the agenda would be gender policies,” said Xasa.

Nkoana-Mashabane said it was not asking too much to say women, which are in the majority in the ANC, should at least make 50% of all structures in the ANC from branch- regional, provincial and national level. She said the women’s league would like to see more women assuming positions of regional and provincial chairpersons and secretaries. The Women’s League would also lobby for more women premiers. Currently, Northern Cape Silvia Lucas is the only woman premier out of the eight provinces under the control of the ANC.

The ANCWL said it would use the NGC to push for the review of the parole boards.

“This is almost like one of the last areas left by apartheid where our people were not paying attention. We need to pay urgent attention to ensure parole boards across all provinces are restructured,” said Ngoana-Mashabane.

The ANCWL has also called for harsher sentences on perpetrators of violence against women.  

It welcomed the decision not to free South African athlete Oscar Pistorius from prison on parole.



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award. Read more from ML


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