'Women must be prioritised' - Maimane

2016-08-09 14:16
DA leader Mmusi Maimane (DA, Twitter)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane (DA, Twitter)

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Pretoria – DA leader Mmusi Maimane has paid tribute to the DA's past female leaders at a DA "thank you" rally in Pretoria's Freedom Park on Women's Day, even as the only women on stage were young women in short skirts who formed part of the marching parade.

Former party leader Helen Zille was said to have been in attendance, but the speakers – North Gauteng regional chairperson Fred Nel, Gauteng leader John Moodey, DA leader Mmusi Maimane and the party’s Tshwane mayoral candidate Solly Msimang – were all men.

"Our women have done us proud," Maimane said.

"Whether it be on the sports field or in the corporate field, or politics, I celebrate that. Even here in our party... we are not saying we are looking for a woman leader. We see the women leadership rising up everywhere, including people like Helen Zille, Helen Suzman. They are women who were in leadership and who took our organisation to where it is today."

Struggle

The "thank you" rally came after the DA got a majority of the votes in the Tshwane metro during last week’s local government elections, Maimane said the struggle "in many ways were led by our mothers and sisters" who marched to the Union Buildings to fight for equal rights in 1956.

But he said there still remained a lot to fight for.

"The struggle is far from done because the face of poverty is still female. And while the face of poverty is still female we must continue to fight, until our mothers and our sisters live in safe communities, in places of prosperity, until freedom is freedom for all.

"It is our sisters who make this country so beautiful," he said.

"We can’t just say happy Women's Day while so many women are being raped, while so many women still face poverty.

"And I want to say this to everyone today. You don't have to be a woman to fight for women, you just have to be a South African committed to a prosperous and peaceful and safe SA for all."

He said Women's Day could not just be a simple public holiday.

"It must be a day on which we remember the economic struggle for all, and more specifically women."

Safety

Maimane also said the safety of women in South Africa remained of deep concern and those who raped women, "you are not going to do it in my name, and I want us to be crystal clear, your place is jail".

"As a nation we need to fight for the rights and equality of women in our society – whether in communities, the private sector or the public sector."

He said that during the party's campaign to govern municipalities, they had called for change to ensure that communities were better places for all, by prioritising job creation, service delivery and eliminating corruption.

"With 39% (almost 6% higher than men and almost 4% higher than the national average) of women facing joblessness, it is clear that in our project of building an inclusive economy, women must be prioritised," added Maimane.

Following the party's electoral congress last year, where Zille stepped down, the number of women in its top leadership has dropped, with only two out of the eight national leaders – deputy federal chairpersons Desiree van der Walt and Refiloe Ntsekhe – being women.

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi mai­mane  |  pretoria  |  women's day  |  politics  |  local elections 2016

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