For Mboweni's growth plan to succeed the ANC has to give up certain dogmatic positions that were formulated when 7% growth was the status quo, writes Adriaan Basson.
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This year on the 20th of June, just after the
eight thirty morning news, SAfm took a comment from a caller. It was June, youth
month, so understandably the guests in studio were an inspiring team of young
people unravelling burdensome truths about being a black South African youth.
What became clear is the known fact that to be black in
South Africa is not child’s play. It’s rough! Now just imagine what it means to
be black, a woman and a youth in what is unquestionably a patriarchal society.
Year after year, various statistical data affirms the triple
arduous realities of a large number of young, black women. For example, Statistic
South Africa’s 2016 Demographics and Health Survey draws a strong link between race, class and
wealth which are further matched in regards to prevalence of HIV/Aids in women
aged 15 to 24.
This context is important to appreciate as part of the discourse
during the month of August, which is commemorated as women’s month. But this
column though is about the mentioned caller’s comment and who truly embodies
the voice of South African women, young and old. So let’s not digress.
The caller argued that “common” women, unlike your usual
activist, academic and politically conscious types, are the least likely to contribute
towards significant public discourse, even when offered such opportunities. Instead,
women tend to be experts on subjects of reality television like the Kardashians,
Our Perfect Wedding and South Africa’s increased number of soapies.
This raises a critical question about whose voice is
actually driving South Africa’s gender equality discourse. Can we comfortably
conclude that those considered victims in gender inequality dialogues are
directing the conversation as opposed to be spoken to and about?
search to this question proves unhelpful. Subjects which appear popular include
women representation, gender based violence and various topics of health,
education, economy and politics.
number of NGOs, which could be said to pass for some kind of women’s movement,
have largely been successful in their efforts as champions in a range of these
none of these are nationally mass based. They do not demonstrate adequately
mandated representation of gender equality efforts that reflect national South
African demographics; Meaning a representation which cannot be questioned in
terms of elements such as differences in age groups, income levels, rural as
opposed to urban constituencies, race, disability or creed.
explains why the organisations also lack the full muscle to take up the fight
against patriarchy in any sustained momentous way to all corners and interests
of South African society - including rural
areas, corporate as much the public sector and urban centres.
Hassim, Professor of Political Studies at Wits University who has published
widely in the field of gender and politics, captures both the challenge and
promising solution quite well. On the downside she argues that “the women’s
movement itself, to the extent that it ever existed in coherent form, has also
seen several changes in the past two decades with the collapse of the Women’s
National Coalition, the ever-increasing distance between the ANC Women’s League
and feminists, and the emergence of a much wider range of organisations dealing
with issues of violence and sexuality.”
But on the
upside she states that “connections are being forged between women’s
organisations working at the brutal edge of the economic crisis in families,
households and communities, and feminist thinkers.”
around October 2005 the ANC Women’s League, fully cognisant of the need for a
mass based, progressive and influential women’s movement, resolved that “it
would be ideal if South African women were to formalise a progressive women’s
movement in 2006”.
seen as an ideal time as it would mark the 50th anniversary of the
1956 women’s march to Pretoria, the 10th year of a democratic
constitution and 30 years since the 1976 June uprising.
with various discussion papers and resolutions that have come and gone, this
outcome still remains a pipe dream. And with the ruling party understanding its
role to be leader of society, there can be legitimate expectation that its
Women’s League should be at the forefront of such an effort.
History also tells
us that this is the same place where meaningful mobilisation and push for
women’s issues have found its drive.
thinking between the ANC Women’s League and a range of relevant organisations
about the nature of this mass based formations are largely resolved. In the
words of the organisation, “The Movement must be progressive and diverse. It
should be shaped by local struggles and have to acknowledge that women are not
a homogenous group.”
In terms of
mandate, “the movement should advocate the ethos of transforming South Africa
into a non-sexist, non-racial, democratic, united and prosperous South Africa.
As well as an understanding of social relationships of class, race, ethnicity,
age, religion, etc.”
foundational issues sorted, all that’s needed now is action!
* Louw is a communications specialist, coach and facilitator as well as presenter on Ubuntu Radio. He writes in personal capacity.
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