/ 6 August 2015

ANC women ‘not pawns’

Anc Women 'not Pawns'

Who is the ANC provincial chairperson who tried to dictate who should be the new leader of the ANC Women’s League? This question was left unanswered after ANC Women’s League president Angie Motshekga delivered her political report at the league’s conference last Thursday.

In her prepared speech delivered to more than 3?000 delegates in Irene, near Pretoria, Motshekga lashed out at male leaders who dictate who should be elected to lead the women’s league, or even the ANC itself.

“Being told at an organisational or official government platform by an ANC chair who to choose for the ANC Women’s League leadership amounts to abuse of office of the highest order, and should be rejected in no uncertain terms,” said Motshekga. She didn’t name the ANC chairperson in question but called for such utterances to be condemned.

“People should not threaten us or even use us as pawns. This is unacceptable,” Motshekga said.

She said provincial leaders should respect the league’s right to choose its own leaders and determine its own programmes.

“Let us not be fooled. It is not about us or in our interest, but definitely and undoubtedly about those male leaders and their own interests,” said Motshekga. She is being challenged for the women’s league presidency by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini. Elections were to take place on August 7.

The conference delegates seemed to be divided between those calling for continuity and making finger gestures indicating the number two – interpreted as calling for a second term for Motshekga – and others chanting: “Change, change,” in support of Dlamini.

Motshekga’s comments come as the debate over electing a female president rages in the party. Some women’s league leaders seem hesitant to commit to the stance that the ANC needs a woman leader.

“It cannot be the ANC where, as women, [we] are currently subjected to male leaders [who] have the audacity to instruct us on who to choose, as recently happened in some regions and provinces,” said Motshekga, without elaborating.

“That was nothing but abuse of office and relationships, and should be condemned in the strongest terms.”

She said while the league may be lobbied and advised on who to elect, members cannot be told who to vote for.

“The ANC Women’s League, while being an integral part of the ANC, remains autonomous and free to choose its leaders and to develop its [own] programmes,” said Motshekga.

She also took a firm stand against male ANC leaders who allegedly do not treat women leaders with respect. Motshekga added, however, that President Jacob Zuma always treats the women’s league with respect.