Inside the chambers of the City of Cape Town. The new council is expected to see a mix of old and new members but questions linger on how political parties would address gender equality. PHOTO: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA
Inside the chambers of the City of Cape Town. The new council is expected to see a mix of old and new members but questions linger on how political parties would address gender equality. PHOTO: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Political parties urged to embrace gender diversity

By Bulelwa Payi Time of article published Oct 10, 2021

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WITH MUNICIPAL elections fast approaching, some candidates lists show that gender diversity has not made significant strides.

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has now urged political parties to embrace diversity.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) 12 000 candidates were submitted by 94 political parties, and 80 people would also contest as independent candidates in the Western Cape.

In the Cape metro, the IEC received 3 890 names for ward candidates and 1 400 on the Proportional Representation (PR) lists from the 52 parties that will be contesting the elections.

Inside the chambers of the City of Cape Town. The new council is expected to see a mix of old and new members but questions linger on how political parties would address gender equality. PHOTO: David Ritchie/African News Agency/ANA

Only 40 people will contest as independent candidates.

The council is made up of 231 members, 116 ward councillors and 115 proportional representatives.

None of the political parties contesting for the metro had fielded women as mayoral candidates.

The CGE said municipalities across the country were "off the mark" with regards to gender equality.

CGE Spokesperson Javu Baloyi said there were more men than women representing communities in councils, close to three decades into democracy.

"Gender equality is a Constitutional imperative. It's also important as we try to dismantle patriarchy in society and the mentality among men that they are the only ones who are supposed to lead, and not be led," said Baloyi.

Some of the major political parties contesting in the City of Cape Town include the current ruling DA, ANC and EFF and GOOD party, and other small parties such as Al-Jama-ah and the African Christian Democratic Party.

The ANC said its policy was to strive for 50/50 representation on its ward candidate and PR lists, but in some instances was hamstrung by communities' choices.

"Some communities tend to go for more males on the ward candidates lists and women and the youth get well represented on the PR lists. Gender parity is a struggle because we are still a patriarchal society. But as an organisation, it is something we take seriously," said provincial spokesperson Sifiso Mtsweni.

The GOOD party submitted candidates for all 116 wards as well as 120 on the PR list.

"Our objective was to achieve an equal representation. In the end we are fielding about 60% men and 40% women, aged between 23-years-old and 75 years," said the party.

The DA would only give a list of candidates for the 116 wards and no further details.

Baloyi called for a "quota" system to ensure equal gender representation in councils.

"All political parties and the Forum of Independent Candidates must ensure that they buy into the quota system. So far only the ANC has gender equality as a policy," said Baloyi.

He also said lists submitted to the IEC should conform to gender representation.

"We need a policy that non-conforming lists should not be accepted. It is also imperative that education in branches must happen to ensure that people understand the importance of gender representation when they nominate party members to represent them in various capacities," added Baloyi.

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