‘Scandalous, unacceptable’ ANC has never had a woman president, says MP

ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Zweli Mkhize, Lindiwe Sisulu and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Graphic by Mallory Munien. Pictures: African News Agency (ANA) (Reuters)

ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Zweli Mkhize, Lindiwe Sisulu and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Graphic by Mallory Munien. Pictures: African News Agency (ANA) (Reuters)

Published Oct 23, 2022


Johannesburg - A senior leader has described the ANC’s failure to elect a female president, deputy president, secretary-general or treasurer-general in its 110-year history as scandalous and unacceptable.

Women among the ANC’s top six national officials have only been elected as deputy secretary-general and national chairperson. Former ANC North West deputy chairperson and MP, China Dodovu said it is unacceptable that women are meant to fill positions such as of deputy secretary-general. He said since 1994, this position has been filled by women and warned that it seems as if this trend will continue.

“It is scandalous that 110 years since the ANC was founded in 1912, no woman has ever occupied the positions of president, deputy president, secretary-general or treasurer-general,” Dodovu stated.

At its last national conference in 2017, the ANC only elected one female in its top six officials, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, who died in July. Dodovu, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces’ select committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs, water and sanitation and human settlements, also backed the ANC Women’s League’s (ANCWL’s) proposal that the ANC’s top six national officials be expanded to eight and include at least four females.

He believes the governing party’s national conference in December presents the best opportunity for the ANC to address the anomaly of lack of gender equality in its top leadership structure. Dodovu said the ANC has always adapted to new and complex dynamics in pursuit of its national democratic revolution.

”It (the ANC) must designate specific key positions to be filled by women, and its top officials must reflect 50% gender balance,” he said.

Dodovu continued: “In that sense, I call for the expansion of the top six structure to eight to address this historical injustice against women within the ANC structures”.

He said although the struggle for gender parity within the ANC continued until 50% representation was achieved in all structures at the 2007 national conference, this has quite strangely not been the case in its top six officials.

Limpopo ANC chairperson Stan Mathabatha, president Cyril Ramaposa and new ANC Limpopo secretary Reuben Madadze during the closing of the African National Congress Limpopo province 10th provincial conference. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA

"It is not acceptable that the ANC has not fully embraced and integrated women in its top structures as expected,” he explained.

The ANC constitution requires that its national executive committee (NEC), the party’s highest decision-making structure between conferences, must not be composed of less than 50% of women.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and her tourism counterpart Lindiwe Sisulu have been touted as candidates for ANC president.

Mmamoloko Kubayi and Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, human settlements and small business development ministers, respectively, have been raised as potential ANC deputy presidents. Among its proposed amendments to the ANC constitution at the policy conference in July, the ANCWL suggested that the top be expanded to eight officials to include two deputy presidents and deputy secretaries-general.

The ANC agreed at the policy conference to strive to achieve a 50/50 gender balance at all levels of leadership and representation and proposed that the upcoming national conference should consider whether to extend it to officials in each executive.

Former ANC deputy president and chairperson of the party’s electoral committee, Kgalema Motlanthe, has urged branches to extend the rule of 50% to all elected structures to the nominations of national officials as a collective to ensure that at least three nominees for the top six are women.

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe announces the official nomination process and rules towards the 55th national elective conference of the African National Congress due to take place from the 16th of December 2022. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

The ANC has called for the 50-50 principle for gender equality to be observed at all times towards the advancement of the status of women.

In its constitution, the ANC states that in its endeavour to reach the objective of full representation of women in all decision-making structures, it shall implement a programme of affirmative action including the provision of a quota of not less than 50% of women in all elected structures of the ANC.

The ANC demands that this method of implementation be addressed in all its structures immediately and continuously.