Alan Winde (centre) has been named as the Democratic Alliance's premier candidate for the Western Cape. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The DA’s decision to appoint two men to replace Mayor Patricia de Lille and Premier Helen Zille has been criticised as a step back in gender equity and a sign of the party’s male-heavy leadership.

De Lille will make way for Dan Plato when she leaves office at the end of next month, while Alan Winde was announced this week as the next Premier.

UWC researcher Ralph Mathekga said: “It’s sad. This is very important. When we look at the crises of political parties, we tend to forget (gender equity).

It’s replacement of women by two men. What does this say about the party?

“I also think that the crises that the DA put itself in has created a situation where they’ve become blind to the fact of gender imbalance. They don’t believe in representation in terms of the numbers, and that’s why they don’t believe in affirmative action. Couldn’t they at least got one woman in one of the positions?

“It’s baffling. This is the party that talks about liberal democracy; giving people a chance; and allowing people talent. Are they going to say they didn’t find women?”

Mathekga said the selection of Premier seemed desperate, considering that party leader Mmusi Maimane had also announced his availability before revoking it shortly thereafter.

Weekend Argus has been reliably informed that the 20-member panel that selected the Premier, largely comprised men.

Moreover, there was only one woman in the last five candidates for the Premier position, while only two women made the top six contestants for the mayor’s position.

Political commentator Somadoda Fikeni said: “The DA has been quite consistent in not being as conscious and purposeful in terms of gender equity issues. You will remember that not so long ago, Zille once led an all-male cabinet.”

But the DA Women’s Network (Dawn) Federal Additional member Bea Campbell-Cloete backs the appointment of the two men. “Dawn believes we need to select the best person that’s fit-for-purpose. We’ve got a very stringent process of selecting candidates. For us, it’s not about whether you’re a man or a woman; black, white, coloured or Indian. For that reason we support (the appointments).”

Asked if this did not maintain the status quo of patriarchy, Campbell-Cloete said: “No, I don’t think so. You know with the DA there are so many female leaders

“Because we’re such a diverse party, we cannot say one can be replaced by another because of their gender, so it’s not about patriarchy, it’s about making sure we deliver to the people.”

Queried whether it was Dawn’s stance that service delivery was more important than gender equity, she said: “Obviously, we would want more women to come through, but we do have to keep in mind that we’re representatives of the people and we need to give them what they’re looking for, which is a strong leader that is going to deliver for them.”

DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said: “Unlike our opponents, we do not simply place people in leadership positions as a bean-counting exercise. We have a fair and open process that is open to all party members.”

He added that there were credible women in the party.

Weekend Argus