Johannesburg - The appointment of only one female provincial premier is alarming, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said on Wednesday.
“[This] seems to be a clear step backwards in the fight for gender equality and 50/50 balance in political representation between men and women in this year's elections,” the commission said in a statement.
“This decision is a regressive move in terms of the challenge of promoting gender equality in South African politics, especially at the highest levels of decision making in government.”
The African National Congress on Tuesday announced its choice of premiers for the eight provinces it won in the May 7 elections.
Of the eight only the Northern Cape had a female premier - Sylvia Lucas.
Party deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte on Tuesday said the ANC was disappointed in the lack of female premiers, but denied this was because there was a lack of leadership among women.
To counter the problem the ANC's national executive committee decided to ensure that for every province with a male premier there had to be a female speaker, and 60 percent of the provincial executive committee had to be women.
After the 2009 elections, the ANC had four female premiers.
The CGE believed this reduction of female premiers cast a shadow on the gains made in the 2009 elections.
“While the CGE acknowledges the commitment of the ruling party to balance this reduction... by appointing more female provincial legislature speakers, this is hardly an equivalent substitute or trade-off, given that the post of legislature speaker does not bear the same constitutional, legislative, and political authority as that of provincial premier,” it said.
The commission called on the ANC to re-consider its decision.