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asic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga has crit­i­cised the ANC’s “pa­tri­archy” and pow­er­hun­gry men, who she says “ma­nip­u­late” women to serve their own in­ter­ests.

The ANC Women’s League pres­i­dent, who is hop­ing to re­tain her po­si­tion dur­ing the league’s elec­tive con­fer­ence this week, says she will rally her troops to re­move the dom­i­nant “pol­i­tics of egos” from within the party, which is threat­en­ing the chances of a woman be­ing elected to lead the party in 2017.

“Even some men in the ANC, you ex­pect them to be a bit pro­gres­sive, but not so when it comes to their in­ter­ests. They want to in­flu­ence any­thing that has a voice for their own per­sonal power. So it is not about a fe­male pres­i­dent; it is about them,” she said.

“It is also the en­vi­ron­ment it­self. Some­times it gets stacked against women. An en­vi­ron­ment where ev­ery chair­per­son in the ANC is a man. It is a prob­lem. Ev­ery sec­re­tary is a man.

“Even at re­gional level – and you can imag­ine how many re­gions there are – I am told that only three women are re­gional sec­re­taries, not even chairs. That is three na­tion­ally, and there are more than 23 ANC re­gions. Those are the things that we have to fight against.”

In an in­ter­view with City Press this week, Mot­shekga said the women’s league would lobby strongly for a fe­male pres­i­dent at the ANC’s 2017 elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Mot­shekga said the league would need to strate­gise us­ing a can­di­date with a proven track record and who would gain the sup­port of the party from branch level to Luthuli House.

“Peo­ple are look­ing for a pres­i­dent. You have to say that we think it will be nice to re­move the pol­i­tics of ego from the ta­ble. You have to con­vince them of the im­por­tance of women and why women are strate­gic to have at the top.”

She said lob­by­ists would have to stress their pre­ferred can­di­date’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties and achieve­ments, and not the fact “that she is wear­ing a dress”.

“You can’t just say it is time for women. You need to sell your per­son be­cause even women will not just buy the cat in the bag,” she says.

Last year, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma gave his bless­ing for a fe­male pres­i­dent, say­ing in a speech be­fore Women’s Day that “it could hap­pen sooner than you think”.

Two names have al­ready been raised: that of African Union Com­mis­sion chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Na­tional Assem­bly Speaker Baleka Mbete.

Mbete is al­ready on record say­ing she would con­test for the top po­si­tion if nom­i­nated by branches. This has sparked spec­u­la­tion in ANC cir­cles that Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa could face a fierce chal­lenge for the pres­i­dency.

How­ever, Mot­shekga said the ANC first needed to fix what she called its “peck­ing or­der”, where those al­ready in of­fice stood bet­ter chances of be­ing pro­pelled to the top.

“The ANC also has a hi­er­ar­chi­cal sys­tem. If you have been a deputy, there is an ex­pec­ta­tion that you will be­come the pres­i­dent,” she says.

Mot­shekga came un­der fire ahead of the ANC’s Man­gaung con­fer­ence in 2012 for say­ing the coun­try was not ready for a fe­male pres­i­dent. This week, she ex­plained that, at the time, the branches had failed to nom­i­nate one.

Af­ter years of be­ing ac­cused of be­ing vot­ing fod­der in ANC palace pol­i­tics and fail­ing to in­flu­ence ma­jor pol­icy de­ci­sions in the party, the ANC Women’s League, in it’s or­gan­i­sa­tional re­port re­leased last year, ad­mit­ted that it had been treated like a women’s desk and that its au­ton­omy was ig­nored.

Mot­shekga said there were in­stances where chairs of prov­inces would al­ter de­ci­sions made by fe­male struc­tures.

She also warned against fall­ing into the trap of be­ing ma­nip­u­lated into be­liev­ing that the sup­port of a fe­male pres­i­den­tial can­di­date by their male coun­ter­parts had no strings at­tached.

“You may find that the men will cham­pion women if they are go­ing to get the can­di­date that will give them the things that they want. So it is not about gen­der when it comes to ma­nip­u­la­tion; it is about power. If they can use you, they will cham­pion you,” she says.

Mot­shekga is con­test­ing the league’s pres­i­dency against So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini.

The league’s Free State pro­vin­cial chair, Sisi Ntombela, was nom­i­nated by most prov­inces for the deputy pres­i­dency po­si­tion.

Mot­shekga said it was wrong to be­lieve that the league was go­ing to the elec­tive congress united.

The league has failed to hold a congress for the past three years amid dis­puted nom­i­na­tions, the dis­ap­pear­ance of reg­is­ters, and the ex­clu­sion of some can­di­dates from branch and pro­vin­cial gen­eral meet­ings.

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