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CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NH­LA­BATHI hlengiwe.nh­la­bathi@city­press.co.za

he new lead­er­ship of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) is likely to spark fresh con­tro­versy af­ter it back­tracked on ear­lier calls for the abo­li­tion of cul­tural prac­tices like ukuth­wala and vir­gin­ity test­ing. The two con­tentious mat­ters had di­vided mem­bers amid con­cerns that abol­ish­ing them tram­pled on the be­liefs of those who prac­tised them.

The league had taken a tough stance on these is­sues lead­ing up to its de­layed elec­tive con­fer­ence, la­belling prac­tices like vir­gin­ity test­ing as harm­ful.

But the butting of heads at the con­fer­ence over the con­tentious is­sue led to a com­pro­mise.

Newly elected sec­re­tary-gen­eral Meogo Matuba (41) from North West told City Press that women at the con­fer­ence agreed to re­spect each other’s be­liefs, cul­tures and choices.

“Re­mem­ber we are in a demo­cratic coun­try. Our so­ci­ety is one where ev­ery­one has rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and must re­spect one another. We will not force any­body to stop prac­tis­ing what they be­lieve in.

“If you feel it’s your cul­ture then we won’t be against it. There are things we also do as part of our cul­ture, but we don’t talk about them,” said Matuba in an in­ter­view on Fri­day.

“Our po­si­tion as the women’s league is that we sup­port pro-choice. When some­one says they choose it, then we give them the sup­port.”

But Matuba said while that was the case, cul­tural prac­tices such as ukuth­wala – where a woman is ab­ducted and mar­ried off to a man she is not in a re­la­tion­ship with – should be done in a man­ner in which women are not forced, but can make up their own minds.

ANCWL sec­re­tary Meogo Matuba

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