Buthelezi: Gender equality a priority for IFP

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) commitment to gender equality has never been tokenistic and remains a genuine priority, said party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Saturday.

Speaking at the 30th annual IFP Women’s Brigade conference in Ulundi, Buthelezi said he believes that for all people to be truly free, women must attain their freedom as provided by the Constitution.

”Themes of gender equality, food security, sustainable development, the impact of globalisation and trade will and should dominate discussions at the conference this weekend.”

Buthelezi said he was shocked to read in a newspaper that William Gumede, author of the book Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC, had in the second edition of the book said ”the IFP’s strategic choices have been driven to a corner. The IFP’s opposition to affirmative action and black empowerment has driven [away] many of the KwaZulu-Natal business class that used to have close links to the IFP.”

”I am just amazed that someone like Mr William Gumede can write such lies about the IFP. The party has never opposed affirmative action but cautioned that in applying it, we should guard against it becoming another form of racial discrimination against other race groups,” said Buthelezi.

He also said that the IFP has never opposed black economic empowerment, but cautioned that while it is welcomed, it should again not discriminate against other previously disadvantaged race groups such as Indians and coloureds.

”I would, at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, caution against ‘affirming’ women into management positions — or, for that matter, any other job by the route of gender-based affirmative action.”

Buthelezi said women should be appointed on merit and ability, not for their gender. ”To me it is an insult to our women to affirm them for the sake of it, without any regard to merit,” he said. — Sapa

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