The ANC says it has met 50-50 gender representation on its national list for the National Assembly, although some of its provinces have not met the target on their provincial lists.
At its conference in Polokwane two years ago the party decided there would be equal gender representation in all of its structures and in its government deployments.
But the party was still unclear this week on the exact numbers on the candidate lists it sent to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
“We met the 50-50 as far as possible, but there were some provinces which ended with 48% or 49%,” ANC spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu said. “At the last NEC meeting we approved the list and checked carefully that it met criteria in terms of gender, geographical representation and the disabled.
“What could have affected the imbalance on the list is people who did not sign the acceptance form and subsequently withdrew from the list. The instances where we did not meet the targets would be marginal.”
The Congress of the People told the Mail & Guardian that it had more women than men on its lists, although it could not provide specific details, except to say women constituted just above 50%, according to spokesperson Sipho Ngwema. The Democratic Alliance said it did not have a gender parity policy, although its leader, Helen Zille, is female.
“We try to combine merit with diversity,” said the federal chairperson of the DA, James Selfe. “I have no idea of the balance between men and women in our lists. What should be far more relevant is to ask if the women in those lists are in electable positions, which guarantees them positions.”
The ANC’s top 10 candidates for the National Assembly are balanced: five men and five women. The women are Baleka Mbete (3), Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (4), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (6), Lindiwe Sisulu (8) and Naledi Pandor at number 10.
The top two candidates on the ANC list are its president Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe, with Mbete third. As president of the country Zuma is not compelled to keep Motlanthe as his deputy and may choose Mbete.
Motlanthe has made it clear that he is no longer interested in the president’s position but has not ruled out accepting the deputy presidency.
The Women’s League has not publicly campaigned for Zuma to appoint a woman deputy president in the interest of unity in the party, but it is known that they want Mbete in the position. Before he was kicked out of the presidency Mbeki said that he wanted his successor to be a woman, without specifying a name. At that time his deputy president was Phum-zile Mlambo-Ngucka; she resigned when Mbeki was forced out and has since joined Cope.
The Women’s League, not known for publicly taking a stance on issues, is also poised to lobby the new president to consider a women’s ministry. At the Polokwane conference the ANC decided that all government policies should consider women and decided the vehicle that could be used towards that purpose is a women’s ministry.
But some women’s organisations have questioned the idea, asking whether it would not amount to “ghettoising” women’s issues.