Patriarchy is no effing joke
Fighting corruption, corporate giants and the ruling party are not the only battles that face the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) Gauteng chairperson, Mandisa Mashego. She also has to fight patriarchy and misogyny in her own party.
“When I joined the EFF, I started to encounter certain misogynistic elements. And I would confront them on my own. I don’t need to call a meeting to confront misogyny,” she said this week. “There is heavy patriarchy in the EFF. But there is even heavier patriarchy in the ANC. And even heavier patriarchy in the South African society,” she added.
Mashego was elected as chairperson of the EFF in Gauteng at its people’s assembly last weekend and is the only woman provincial leader in the party.
The EFF’s first woman provincial leader, Betty Diale from the North West, was replaced last weekend by the new chairperson, Matshidiso Botswe, a development Mashego said had “saddened” her.
In Mashego’s contest for the post of provincial chairperson, patriarchy reared its ugly head when some members questioned her ability to lead because of her gender, she said.
“There were comments that I would pick up here and there that ‘we will not be led by a woman’. But sometimes people say things in a conference just to intimidate the opposition. I don’t think it was that serious.”
Mashego said she believed the behaviour of men in the EFF was a reflection of wider society.
Despite the EFF’s claim that it is leading the gender struggle, the party has been criticised for its treatment of women in its ranks and the conduct of its male members both in and outside the party.
EFF Limpopo secretary Jossey Buthane has appeared in court on allegations of assaulting a woman colleague at a regional meeting. He has denied the allegations. Former North West deputy chair Bunga Ntsangane has also been charged with assaulting a woman party member during a disagreement in his office last year. He has also denied it.
In Gauteng, the party recently suspended one of its members of the legislature, Patrick Sindane, for allegedly assaulting a woman in Soweto.
Mashego has the task of leading the EFF in Gauteng for next year’s general elections. She said her priorities would be finding the money to support the election campaign and launching branches in 47 wards to triple the party’s support in the province.
The EFF has branches in 482 of Gauteng’s 529 wards and will need to have a presence in the rest to have 100% representation in the province.
Mashego denied reports of divisions and violent clashes at the provincial conference last weekend and said divisions in the EFF were being sown by the ANC as a desperate measure before the elections.
“The ANC has been doing what they tried before and they failed. They keep on looting money out of government to try to infiltrate the EFF with that dirty money ... this time we were a lot more organised,” she said.