A few women have been pegged to take over Pres­i­dent Zuma’s seat

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FILTER -

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.

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