ANC Mpumalanga makes U-turn on rape-accused leader that left ANCWL leaders fuming

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Bathabile Dlamini (file)
Bathabile Dlamini (file)
  • Bathabile Dlamini has decried the decision by the Mpumalanga ANC leadership to reinstate a man accused of rape to the PEC.
  • The ANC in that province has since rescinded the decision.
  • She bemoaned President Cyril Ramaphosa and other party leaders for doing nothing on gender-based violence.

After a massive public outcry, including from leaders of the ANC Women's League (ANCWL), the ANC in Mpumalanga has rescinded a decision to reinstate a rape-accused leader. 

The party held a special meeting of its provincial executive committee where it was decided that the man should be suspended until the outcome of his case is decided on. 

The man is out on R20 000 bail on multiple charges of rape of two eight-year-old girls. 

While the ANC in Mpumalanga first defended its decision on Tuesday, it faced a barrage of attacks both inside and outside the ANC.

ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini has spoken out, saying the decision tested her faith in the party and made her "sick". 

An impassioned Dlamini lambasted the decision and confirmed it would be at the centre of their fight in next week's ANC national executive committee meeting.

The initial controversial decision by the ANC in Mpumalanga was made a day before the government and party launched the 16 Days of Activism against Women and Child Abuse campaign. The ANCWL, which rarely broke ranks with party leaders, called the decision "careless".

Dlamini said: 

It's more than a slap in the face, a slap is much better. It goes right down to the core of your values and your beliefs. What we are going to do is ask the ANC to be forthright and take a decision. When it comes to issues of gender-based violence people want to speak as provinces... There should not just be promises and promises, no. We are not for sale.

Mpumalanga ANC acting chairperson Mandla Ndlovu said the party had re-evaluated its initial decision but did not say whether it was forced to do so by top party leaders to reconsider the decision. 

READ | 'NEC caused this step-aside confusion' - ANC in Mpumalanga on why it reinstated rape accused leader

Speaking in the North West on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the 16 days of activism campaign would strengthen the branches of the ANC. 

He told members to take the campaign seriously, adding the empowerment of women was propagated across the continent due to the efforts of the ANCWL.

"Now, all of us in the country and globally are now supposed to embark on those 16 days so that we combat violence against women and children and there must be ward-based gender-based violence and femicide command centres over these 16 days. Our branches must participate in that," Ramaphosa said.

Unimpressed with the president's praise of the women's league, Dlamini said they had heard the compliments from ANC leaders before. 

She said:

As women we drag ourselves to the [NEC] meetings. They praise us and leave. We are not drum majors. It doesn't help if people recognise your efforts without commitment. At all times they want to use flimsy reasons. When we go to meetings with the structures of the ANC, we just talk and talk and talk.

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ANC deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte had also spoken out against the reinstatement. In an interview with EWN, she called the decision by the province insensitive. 

Duarte said considerations should have been made for more factors than legal implications when the ANC in Mpumalanga made its decision.

In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa raised the issue of gender-based violence, saying despite the best efforts of national governments and civil society, gender-based violence remained a feature in the lives of millions of women and girls around the world.

He said legislative and policy measures instituted by governments could not alone rid us of this problem.

The ANC had, ironically, called on all sectors of society to play their part in the fight against gender-based violence, violence against the elderly and children, and femicide.

"We cannot, as a society, afford to turn a blind eye to this scourge. The scale of the impact of GBV in our society places upon us all a responsibility that we cannot avoid," the party said in a statement. 

Dlamini on Thursday led a march to Constitutional Hill to to demand that the judiciary prioritises cases of gender-based violence and femicide and give justice to victims. She delivered a memorandum to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

According to Dlamini, during the meeting, a decision was made to reinstate the party leader, as some members of the Mpumalanga provincial executive said the charges were related to the upcoming provincial conference.

"OK, if it is, let the court decide," she said, dismissing the argument. 

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