Johannesburg - Newly-elected ANCWL president Sisisi Tolashe says she will work to empower women.
Tolashe was speaking at the closing of the ANCWL 13th conference in Nasrec, south of Joburg, on Sunday.
Over 3000 delegates braved the cold weekend to see the conference produce new leadership despite numerous challenges.
Tolashe is known to be one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s allies, having defeated former structure president Bathabile Dlamini as well as ANC MP Thembeka Mchunu.
She apologised to the delegates for withstanding the freezing weather.
“I want to thank delegates for the discipline, unity and good will displayed in this conference. When the women of the ANC in our diversities will rise from this national conference more united and determined to spare no effort but to raise the voices of women for their emancipation,” said Tolashe.
Ramaphosa, while addressing delegates at the conference, said the GBV epidemic needed a collective effort.
“You need to lead the fight for social and economic empowerment, and you must also, together with all of us in society, continue to lead the fight against all forms of violence against women, and this is where you, as the ANCWL, have also excelled because you are the ones who raise the issue of violence against women more prominently. I would like to see you working together with men to make sure that we end violence and abuse against the women of South Africa. GBV is what you must work hard to bring to an end,” said Ramaphosa.
However, a number of ANC members who are men have been recently arrested for violence against women, including assault and violating their bodies in the form of rape.
The latest is Tebogo Sepale, a councillor at the Matlosana Local Municipality, who is facing 11 provisional charges: two for statutory rape, three for the violation of a child with consent, one for manufacturing pornographic material, four for rape, and one for sexual intimidation.
He is due back at Orkney Magistrate’s Court on August 24. He is still in custody, and the State believes it has a strong case against him.
Political analyst Dr Fikile Vilakazi, speaking to the state broadcaster, said the ANCWL should remain relevant as the country is dealing with GBV as the number one pandemic.
“If you look at that, it should remain relevant, but whether it is, I think it is something we have been questioning for some time now, mainly because of the manner in which the ANCWL has led its own struggles for women within the party but generally for women in our society. We have not seen that demonstration of capacity to be able to be a decisive role-player when it comes to issues that are facing women in the country and marginalised people living with disabilities,” said Vilakazi.
She added: “In 2023, I think that we are still faced with an ANCWL that is struggling to find its role in society and define itself for the times we are living in. Rather, we see an ANCWL that is highly dependent on male counterparts within the ANC to give it trust and push. Ramaphosa outlined the 10 key points: I don’t know if the ANCWL is able to be decisive by themselves in 2023.”