Shut down the women’s ministry

2012-02-25 09:33

Balancing the political books is not the point of the budget. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made that clear this week.

We see this in his allocation to the department of women, children and people with disabilities,
another of Cosatu’s post-Polokwane demands.

On paper things don’t look too bad. The ­department got an increase of 32% for this year.

But after handing one-third of its budget to the Commission for Gender Equality, it is left with R90 million, most of which is spent on salaries, travel and food.

As a newspaper, our job is to agitate for a better deal for the people the department claims to
support – the vulnerable in society.

And that is why we are asking the department to cut its losses and close down. In the words of poet WH Auden, they should stop all the clocks and cut off the telephone.

From the budget it is clear they interpret their mandate as one of activism – make the message heard and our work is done.

Only it is not. The message is necessary, but behaviour change in society signals real success.

The department clearly does not have the ­ambition, the political clout or, quite frankly, the budget to make any of this happen.

So it makes a mockery of the crisis of domestic violence, patriarchy and child abuse.

It has failed to rally society behind its cause and therefore it must leave the building.

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