Women department budget debate descends into shouting match, MPs walk out

2017-05-24 20:32
Two men taking part in the  #NotInMyName march in  Pretoria. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

Two men taking part in the #NotInMyName march in Pretoria. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

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Cape Town - Opposition MPs walked out of the budget vote on the department of women in the presidency after the debate turned into a political shouting match.

MPs from the ruling ANC and opposition DA, IFP and Cope MPs took turns to shout over each other as the debate around budget and violence against women progressed.

Minister of Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu eventually delivered her replies to an empty DA bench.

Shabangu had earlier said a ministerial task team has been working on a draft policy to ensure sanitary towels can be provided for young and poor women.

DA MP Terri Stander however slammed the department for taking six years to draft a policy.

She mocked government for making new "quiet, tasty" condoms, but can't finalise the policy on sanitary towels.

"Honourable Stander, what a shame. Young as she is," Shabangu replied.

"I don't want to talk politics on the pain of African women. The issue of violence is not starting today, it has been there for a very long time."

Shabangu attempted to say the delay was due to the department wanting to produce the right product.

She claimed a sanitary towel "was nothing" for someone in Terri Stander's position, but was vital for poor and indigent young girls, justifying the six-year wait for government to provide it.

She claimed Stander was just doing her job, but she was doing it for her community and for her own family.

State 'failing women'

Before the opposition walked out, portfolio committee chairperson Thandi Memela said the upcoming budget was for Karabo Mokoena, Lerato Moloi, Popi Qwabe, Courtney Pieters, and the many other nameless and faceless women who have been victims of violence.

"Women around the world have historically faced barriers that have prevented them from participating meaningfully.

DA MP Denise Robinson said South Africa has lost the idea of Ubuntu.

"What is it that has led to this loss?" Robinson said.

"Sadly, the institutions of State that are meant to protect this are flawed, particularly police and justice."

She slammed the department for changing its annual performance plan one month before the end of the financial year, and said it doesn't seem to have clear direction.

Robinson also bemoaned the fact that their portfolio is ignored when it comes to policy making, saying it essentially ignores the input of women.

She said police officers need specialised training in how to treat cases of assault.

She was glad new Police Minister Fikile Mbalula would make funding available for this specific need.

Women on fringes of economy

NFP MP Nhlanhla Khubisa said women and children are not just statistics. They must be treated with the dignity they deserve.

Van der Merwe said every year they approve a budget, but when they leave, violence against women gets ignored.

"No tangible difference is ever made to stop gender based violence. We need to be honest with ourselves.

"As long as women remain on the fringes of our economy, and earn less than men, are continued to be raped and tortured, we are failing our women."

Van der Merwe said the department needs to invest in grass root campaigns like the #NotInMyName campaign.

"What good is it to have a gender-based violence toll-free number, when nobody knows what it is?

"We cannot ask our men and boys to rise up, when we are sitting back."

Read more on:    cope  |  da  |  anc  |  ifp  |  susan shabangu  |  cape town  |  crime  |  parliament 2017

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