The empowerment of black women is at the centre of Mandisa Mashego’s election campaign.
Mashego is contesting the City of Johannesburg for Abantu Batho Congress (ABC), which describes itself as an Afrocentric, Pan-Africanist and womanist revolutionary movement.
Mashego is the party’s interim director. She found a new political home in the ABC following her departure from the EFF last year.
The fierce politician has always been passionate and vocal about women empowerment, highlighting that it is black women who have always borne the brunt of societal ills and found themselves on the back burner in many respects.
“Black women in particular are under siege. Economically, culturally and politically. If we said we would do positive discrimination, which the Constitution allows, we would push for the employment of more women because we would have an economic space to employ more black women. They are the ones who are mostly unemployed. Even the ones who have qualifications are sitting at home,” Mashego told City Press.
She added that was one of the reasons economic upliftment “would easily take up 70% of my work”.
According to Stats SA’s expanded definition, the rate of unemployment among women, at 48.7%, was 8.1 percentage points higher than among their male counterparts in the second quarter of 2021. Women accounted for 43.4% of total employment in the second quarter of 2021.
Mashego said: “For me, economic empowerment is non-negotiable, because if you don’t have money, you cannot even move from one place to another. It is extremely important for women to be economically empowered and self-empowered. The job-creation strategy would be a key focus for me.”
The ABC was formed last year by former National Freedom Party (NFP) councillor Philani Mavundla and some party members. It contested in the by-elections late last year and hopes to make a mark in next month’s municipal elections.
While her passion for women empowerment shone through, Mashego also deplored how the ANC-led government lacked the aptitude to ensure local economic development.
“The municipality is not supposed to wait for revenue from marking up electricity or marking up water. The municipality is structured purely for local economic development.”
She said the promise of free services by the post-1994 government was coupled with a lack of explanation to South African citizens about how and where money for such basic services would come from.
Mashego believes that there is a lack of understanding of what true economic empowerment looks like.
“It is very common to find fellow black women who demand to be given a social grant for their children, and that is all well and fine, but I would argue that that is not redress. If you want post-colonial redress, you are talking genuine, thorough and vigorous re-education, relearning processes and revolutionising the knowledge.”
Independent candidate Lydia Morake, agreed with Mashego on women’s empowerment and said it was important to her that women in her ward “be given equal opportunities as the men”, adding that political parties have to be given a run for their money.
Morake is contesting ward 45 in Soweto, which includes Meadowlands.