Kimberley - The howling down of speakers, points of order and verbal attacks were just some of the scenes witnessed in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature on Tuesday as members had a go at each other regarding the role the ANC-led government has played in the advancement of women in South Africa since 1994.
“We are concerned by the constant undermining of the women and society by the current provincial government. Alcohol abuse by women continues to rise in the province due to the ANC government continuously issuing liquor licences in an irresponsible manner,” the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPL, Mmabatho Mokause, said before she was interrupted by ANC MPL Maruping Lekwene.
“Point of order Speaker (Kenny Mmoiemang), (the) EFF is lying,” Lekwene interjected.
“Sit down you are lying,” another ANC MPL shouted.
Mokause responded: “You are wasting my time, honourable Maruping.”
“You keep quiet and sit down because you are lying. The ANC is the only party telling the truth here (about the socio-economic conditions of women in the province since 1994),” ANC MPLs responded.
“Speaker (Mmoiemang) I’m requesting to be protected at this point,” Mokause asked.
Mmoiemang did not respond to Mokause’s request.
Mokause was not the only opposition party member who was shouted down and attacked by ANC MPLs. Cope member Pakes Dikgetsi was also told to “shut up and sit down”.
Dikgetsi lambasted the ruling party, saying that after 20 years in government, the party was still battling to resolve the challenges that women are facing in the province, including a lack of education, unemployment and poverty.
Altercations involving members of the House also erupted when Dikgetsi accused the ANC of pushing a feminist agenda by attempting to elevate women more than men in the province.
“It is very sad today that the ruling party has decided to send only one man to the legislature, it’s really a shame,” he said.
ANC MPL Gail Parker made it clear to Dikgetsi that “women in the ANC do not require a gallery of men to fight our battles”.
“Women in the ANC fight for what they believe in. We also urge the women of the province to fight for their place in our society. The ruling party will fight to the bitter end to ensure that the socio-economic lives of our women are improved even further,” Parker added.
She then spoke about the “good work” done by the ANC government in the past 20 years to improve the living conditions of the women in the province.
“The ANC government will also stop at nothing to ensure that we fight the scourge of women and children abuse in our societies. We will continue to work with various stakeholders, including the general public, to put an end to this plague,” Parker added.
Dikgetsi said that “it is disappointing that 20 years after 1994, women who have a tertiary education earn less than what their male counterparts earn”.
“Unemployment remains higher among women in the province. While education is an enabler, disappointingly, women are not as enabled by their education status as their male counterparts are,” Dikgetsi added.
DA MPL Safiyia Stanfley decried the problems that the Northern Cape is experiencing when it comes to the protection of women against violence.
“Legislation aimed at protecting women, such as existing laws against domestic violence and sexual abuse, are not implemented properly throughout the province. In the past three weeks, we have seen that women are not always protected and that women’s rights are not always realised.
“Gender-based violence remains endemic. Consider the fact that an average of three women die each day at the hands of their intimate partners. This means that 93 women in South Africa will have died in Women’s Month alone,” Stanfley said.
She, however, hailed the current government for improving access to education for women and girl children in the country.
“It is also welcoming to note that 96 percent of girls who start Grade 1 reach the last grade of primary school and that 22 percent of girls go on to enrol themselves in tertiary education,” Stanfley said.
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