‘It was not about what I preferred, but the task at hand': Mbete on taking up ANCWL convener post

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Newly elected ANC Womens' League National Coordinator Maropene Ramokgopa, Convenor Baleka Mbete and National Spokesperson Meokgo Matuba.
Newly elected ANC Womens' League National Coordinator Maropene Ramokgopa, Convenor Baleka Mbete and National Spokesperson Meokgo Matuba.
Juniour Khumalo
  • Former deputy president Baleka Mbete has admitted to initially being taken aback when asked to be the ANC Women's League's convener.
  • She says after some reflection, she later accepted the role and has committed to pouring her more than 50 years of experience into reviving the structure. 
  • It is unclear when the ANCWL's conference will sit with the newly elected leadership. 

Former deputy president and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has vowed to pour her extensive experience in politics - which spans more than 50 years - into reviving the ailing ANC Women's League (ANCWL).

Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday following the first meeting of the ANCWL's National Task Team (NTT) on Monday, Mbete said her initial reaction to being appointed as convener last month was that of shock. 

"I was surprised when I heard about it [being proposed for the role of convener] outside of being told directly by my leadership at Luthuli House. 

"I thought they had to be joking, but I had to be sober about it [the situation] and realised that it was not about preference, but it was about there being a job that needed to be done at a particular time, not about me personally. 

"As an ANC member who has at least five decades of my life … when I was alone quietly, I realised that there was a task that had to be done." 

She added while the task was undoubtedly enormous, given most of the ANCWL's structures had to be disbanded and reconvened, the newly appointed members of the National Working Task Teak (NWTT) were up for the task. 

National coordinator Maropene Ramokgopa agreed with Mbete, saying the NWTT had a clear mandate to take structures of the ANCWL to its conference and also to run the affairs of the organisation. 

READ | Ramaphosa advisor touted to lead tentative ANC Women's League structure alongside Baleka Mbete

The meeting of the NTT on Monday elected 44 members into the NWTT. They include former ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini, Tina Joemat-Petterson, and Pamela Tshwete, among others. 

The meeting also saw Meokgo Matuba being appointed as national spokesperson, while Nokuthula Ncaba will be the national organiser. 

In April, the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) disbanded the ANCWL's executive as it had been in charge for more than its term of office. 

When asked how Dlamini had made it on to the NWTT despite being found guilty of perjury, Ramokgopa and Matuba said the decision had been taken by the NEC, which had also appointed the coordinator and convener. 

Matuba was quick to add the NEC had not imposed Dlamini on them but decisions taken by the party's highest-making decision body ought to be respected.

"There was a process in the ANC where all members of the task team were appointed through; we are also appointed through that process. And therefore, comrade Bathabile is also a member who has been appointed through the same process which we were appointed on.  

"She was not imposed on us. She is a member of the woman's league in good standing, and any other issues that are pertaining to her in the organisation are best placed in the space of the ANC, not the women's league. In the women's league, we are working together, and we are given a mandate," said Matuba.

There was some uproar from some circles when the NEC initially left out Dlamini when it named the NTT. 

The party had initially said it wanted individuals on the preparatory structure who had no interest in the outcomes of the conference despite the same rules not being applied in provinces such as Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape when task teams were put in place leading up to those provincial conferences.

The NTT members confirmed a report on the state of the ANCWL from the previous national executive showed "there was no structure".

ALSO READ | Baleka Mbete took no action on a whistleblower's report on the arms deal, said she would do it again

They said this was owing to most of its structures having overstayed their terms of office and there now being a need to reconvene them. 

Details on when the ANCWL will be holding its conference will, according to the newly appointed leadership, be announced after the meeting of the NWTT.

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