A few women have been pegged to take over President Zuma’s seat
as the DA’s parliamentary leader, Helen Zille has given up any opportunity to become the first female president of South Africa. It’s interesting to watch Hillary Rodham Clinton, another female politician on the other side of the world, campaign for the highest seat in the US. Other female world leaders include Germany’s Angela Merkel ( fifth most powerful person in the world) Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye. Closer to home, we have Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Yet, considering there are 195 countries in the world, the picture is a little uninspiring. But is South Africa ready to join the female-led pack? According to the 2014 South African Social Attitudes Survey, there is overall support for female leadership. An almost equal number of men (73%) and women (77%) think that if there were more women in politics, their needs would be better addressed. And a few women have been pegged to take over President Zuma’s seat as he serves his last term. AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete are the frontrunners. Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, and Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, have also been mentioned. President Zuma himself has said that he thinks we’re ready. But I have my doubts about our willingness. The number of women in positions of power in the economic sector is depressing. Considering the role that women played in the liberation struggle, there has been insufficient recognition of the importance of female leadership. We have good numbers when it comes to female representation in government but what real influence do these women have? Violence against women remains high, misogyny and patriarchy remain obstacles and the president’s reputation with women is murky at best. But maybe that’s the point – that even though we may not be ready for a female head of state, our country is in desperate need of one.
celebrated her 21st birthday – 21 years as a democratic and free country. But just looking back at the first half of the year, it’s been a trying one so far.There was the divisive impact of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the defacing of statues around the country. And then the violent xenophobic attacks in Durban and Johannesburg.While we are in our democratic adulthood,the current state of the nation is indicative of the long and painful road we are still to walk to maturity. I remember seeing a tweet from a young black woman:‘White people must never tell me to get over apartheid!’, which really hit home for me.That ‘getting over it’ was particularly true.Too often I have heard that black people need to‘get over’the past because it already happened and we can’t move forward if we are‘stuck in the past’.But the reality is much more complicated than that. For many black people, that ‘past’ is still their daily experience and still has an impact on their immediate futures. It is difficult to ‘get over’ inadequate health care and education systems,poverty and a lack of resources when you are still playing catch-up in acquiring the skills required to qualify for jobs that may be the gateway to a higher standard of living. Skills previously denied to you because of your skin colour. But these setbacks are not only reserved for the adults who lived through the system; they are the experiences of children who were born into a democratic country. The born-frees. Who, in many cases, have been jumping through hoops since birth, with probabilities of success a fraction of those of their white counterparts. Until we are able to even these playing fields, the solution cannot be simply ‘getting over it’ – there is still much more to be done.