Former ANC communications manager Khusela Diko has been appointed President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson. Picture: @MYANC/TWITTER
Do the ANC Youth League and Women’s League, truly exist to lobby for young people and women’s rights?

Or is the wool being pulled over our eyes while other interests take priority?

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa, made a historic and significant addition to his communication team by appointing Khusela Diko as his spokesperson. Diko is the first female appointment to this male dominated role since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

She is a young, inventive and brilliant political communicator who cut her teeth in this field, as an ANCYL spokesperson before advancing to a senior role.

In between these appointments, she was the spokesperson of the ANCWL following the departure of their long-time spokesperson, Troy Martens, to the ministry of basic education.

The silence of the leagues on this momentous triumph is too loud, specifically, in the aftermath of the former, recently decrying inadequate deployment of young people to positions of importance.

It then stands to reason that we correctly anticipated them to be the first to gloat about this individual accomplishment.

However, almost a week thereafter, they have yet to release a statement welcoming the historic appointment of their former national executive committee leader. 

The latter is tasked with lobbying for women’s rights and by extension to celebrate the achievements of women. What should we infer from their non-existent sound on this amazing coup for women, that expressly speaks to their stated objectives? 

Astonishingly, the ANCWL was the lightening fast congratulating of a male comrade on his deployment as the party’s spokesperson, yet no such accolade was afforded a young female comrade’s game changing appointment.

A number of opinion pieces have been penned emphasising this structure’s disingenuity, particularly following the ANC national conference, for undemocratically advocating for a predestined member to lead the party while denigrating the rest for daring to possess the same interest.

It is common cause how it condescendingly treated Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, castigated her for daring to have a voice in her unwavering support for Ramaphosa to take over the reigns from the former president Jacob Zuma.

It is also public knowledge how they vehemently opposed the candidacies of Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu and Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete who were chastised and told not to expect any support from an organisation whose aims were “for the emancipation of all women”.

The ANCWL president Bathabile Dlamini rebuked Sisulu, inferring that she wasn’t progressive and neither was she active in her branch, all this because she and Mbete dared to contest for ANC presidency against the one ordained by some in the ANCWL, which is anathema to the founding principles of this important organisation.

It can be inferred that those who supported the predetermined candidate never voted for Sisulu at the national conference, who contested the deputy president position against a male comrade. It could very well be that such honours are reserved for a select few and not all women, with Diko and the above mentioned existing on the wrong side of the coin.

This was also an opportune moment for the ANCWL to add their voice to the progressive decision taken by the president of the country. This is a vote of confidence in the skills and acumen for all women by the Ramaphosa presidency. It should be noted that this was a risk-taking measure considering we live in an environment dominated by patriarchal beliefs and practices hence the appointment is the first ever in this country.

The ANCWL risks attaining irrelevance to women amid accusations of being the main drivers of the same patriarchy that they constantly denounce in public but practice behind closed doors. You will recall that this is the same organisation, according to Qaanitah Hunter, during the ANC National Policy Conference that opted to be represented by males describing women as not emotional beings who are unable to debate.

It is no surprise that some women have an aversion to this structure albeit it is meant to look after their interests, yet are prepared to join the mother body en masse. While some allude to lack of coherent leadership as well as abuse of power by the current leadership, others bemoan their interests not finding expression in the ANCWL discourse as well as the abuse of the organisation for the benefit of males are approximately the reasons advanced.

The advancement of young and female comrades will continue to occur and be celebrated throughout the country in spite of both the youth and women’s leagues’ lack of acknowledgement, something anathema to both their existential purposes. Women and young men alike correctly applauded this historic appointment on every social media platform and did not wait for structures to validate them.

This was an opportunity for them to mitigate that narrative. Will women’s interests ever take precedence in the ANCWL without it being a subtext for male benefit?

Isn’t it time that the baton is handed over to a younger generation who seem to care more for the future of the organisation? Isn’t it time for fresh ideas aimed at taking the organisation of Lilian Ngoyi and all others who sacrificed to find expression?

* Monethi is an ANC member.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.