Long Walk to Freedom – Is your political party rooting for womxn?

Nobuhle Mtshali | Jun 13, 2019
“We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to – heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights; lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law; improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

May God protect our people.

Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika.

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.

God seen Suid Afrika.

God bless South Africa.

Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika.

Hosi Katekisa Afrika.”

Preamble To The Constitution Of South Africa

This is where we started 25 years ago. This declaration has become the projected plan of how we are to run our country after transitioning from the ills of the Apartheid government. Given the tumultuous political and social climate we have had over the past five years, it is, without a doubt, that these elections are the most critical and the most vital political designations to date. That being said, many South Africans are struggling to tie down their vote to one political party siting various indiscretions that each party has made, some more than others. Political parties in South Africa are usually the center of political and social power. They engage in most activities that are of significant consequence in the lives of citizens and link the common man to the government and subsequently to resources.  Political parties are critical structures in modern society especially in Southern Africa. They form a universal phenomenon in most democracies. As such, I thought it pertinent to write about what each party has planned for the country and more importantly for womxn in the South African context. We take a look at the top 3 political manifestos and the promises they are making to womxn, from improving wages, safety and security, education, job opportunities, abortion rights and tackling sexual and gender-based violence as a whole.

Here is a breakdown of what each party is offering women:

African National Congress – Grow The Future

The ANC’s manifesto is dedicated to Growing the Future, for a better Africa and a better world. It outlines the achievements of the ANC led government over the past 25 years, which it sees as the first phase of the democratic transition. Its plan for the second phase is focused on the “radical socio-economic transformation and to meaningfully address poverty, unemployment, land distribution, gender-based violence and inequality. The manifesto mentions women in the some of the following areas:

On jobs: The ANC hopes to transform the economy to ensure it serves the people. It hopes to build on the recently announced stimulus and recovery plan and has set out key commitments to change the structure of the economy. By drawing on more South Africans, particularly the youth and women, into decent employment and self-employment, the party hopes to increase opportunities for women entrepreneurs, worker-owned businesses and SMMES in urban and rural areas through access to funding and markets, including public procurement and engagements with the retail sector to support local enterprises.

On sustainable and radical land reform: The ANC hopes to ensure tenure security through adequate recognition and protection of the rights of long-term occupiers, women and labour tenants in communal land tenure. They also aim to advance women’s access to land and participation in agriculture and rural economies.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – Our Land And Jobs Now

The EFF sees itself as an “economic emancipation movement,” a “Marxist-Leninist, Favonian organization,” with a socialist agenda. It has presented a populist manifesto targeting the economically marginalized and the youth. Economic freedom will be attained through the implementation of 7 pillars: while focusing on clear, implementable and decisive programmes for all spheres of governance, the EFF’s emphasis for the 2019 general elections was on LAND and JOBS.

Here are some key highlights of mentions of women in the EFF manifesto:

On land: The EFF government will redistribute a minimum of 50%of the land to be controlled by women and the youth.

On gender, women and LGBTQI+: The EFF will strive to realize women’s liberation through a variety of interventions, starting with prioritizing women when it comes to the benefits of economic emancipation. These interventions will include education against patriarchy and sexism, complemented by legislation to protect and promote women’s liberation and the close monitoring of the implementation thereof in order to realize real women empowerment in society, within the family and at the workplace. The EFF believes that gender-based violence and related antisocial activities are reinforced and even sustained by the deplorable general conditions of our people; therefore, a key to female emancipation is the emancipation of all. The EFF will emphasize transforming the lives of our people in informal settlements from structural violence as a mechanism to end all violence, including violence against women. The EFF government will ensure that the following key interventions are made:

- 50% women representation in all spheres representing economic benefit, political participation and  managerial and leadership responsibility;

- Compulsory gender education and training for all (e.g. at school, work, within the family, church, in the legislative, executive as well as civil society);

Democratic Alliance – The Manifesto For Change

The DA starts its manifesto by highlighting the dream of a “One South Africa for All”. It emphasizes values that are reflected within our Constitution and how, to date, the ruling party has failed to uphold those sentiments. In it’s manifesto it states that its’ mission is to realise the dream: “One South Africa for All” and aims to provide millions of South Africans with the chance to bring change that builds. So how does the above translate to opportunities and change for womxn?

The DA has mentioned womxn in some of the following areas:

Eradicating employment: The DA hopes to introduce legislation to protect job-seekers, particularly women, who are vulnerable and may be to coerced into transactional sex requests. The legislation will implement hopes to codify sexual exploitation as a distinct form of corruption as well as protect individuals who report incidences.

Eliminating Gender-based Inequalities: The DA government will ensure compliance and improve reporting of gender-based violence by:

- Ensuring police report all cases of domestic abuse and comply with processes and procedures with cases of ongoing domestic abuse of women, children and the elderly, and making it illegal not to do so. No victim should approach the police and be turned away.

- Ensuring 100% of police stations comply with existing and new laws, and regulations that favour the victim.

While the above declarations and promises show a massive vested interest in changing the lives of every South African, can we trust these declarations or are we once again being sold a well-versed and elaborate dream?

We will have to wait and see.