Ramaphosa lashes out over war on women

Joins thou­sands re­trac­ing steps of anti-pass laws protest

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON FELIX

PRES­I­DENT Cyril Ramaphosa has said the vi­o­lent war waged on South African women has left so­ci­ety lament­ing more than spark­ing out­rage.

Men should hang their heads in shame, he said.

The pres­i­dent was ad­dress­ing the of­fi­cial Women’s Day cel­e­bra­tions in Mbek­weni, near Paarl, yes­ter­day, where he also an­nounced that the govern­ment would be host­ing a na­tional gen­der sum­mit on Au­gust 31.

“There is an ad­mis­sion that all of us men have to make. In towns, small and large, in cities, in homes, in schools, in col­leges, in uni­ver­si­ties, in parks and open spa­ces, a war is be­ing waged in South Africa on women’s right to se­cu­rity and equal­ity.

“It is an af­front to our com­mon hu­man­ity. The as­sault on our women has reached un­prece­dented lev­els,” Ramaphosa added.

“We have seen that there is lit­tle out­rage at these bru­tal acts of vi­o­lence. There is more la­men­ta­tion than out­rage. So­ci­ety is largely be­com­ing ac­cus­tomed to this.

“We need to raise an aware­ness and en­cour­age women to raise their voices,” Ramaphosa said.

He re­cently ac­cepted a me­moran­dum of griev­ances from the #To­talShut­Down pro­test­ers at the Union Build­ings in Pre­to­ria.

“There I heard of re­ports that one po­lice of­fi­cer slapped a woman, while an­other ver­bally abused one of the fe­male pro­test­ers. I have asked the po­lice min­is­ter to in­ves­ti­gate these in­ci­dents.

“Vi­o­lence against women is a so­ci­etal prob­lem. We need to start fo­cus­ing on how we raise boys, and look at the psy­che of men who com­mit these crimes,” he said.

On the con­tentious is­sue of land re­form, Ramaphosa said: “We need to en­sure that land re­form favours women. We need to en­sure that land re­form ben­e­fits women who can work the land.

“The land must ben­e­fit women in terms of hous­ing and agri­cul­ture and to get them out of poverty.”

A group of pro­test­ers held posters call­ing for a mora­to­rium on farm evic­tions. Ramaphosa ac­knowl­edged them, and se­nior ANC lead­ers spoke to them.

ANC Women’s League Strug­gle vet­eran So­phie de Bruyn said women to­day faced an up­hill bat­tle.

De Bruyn is the only sur­viv­ing leader of the Women’s March to the Union Build­ings on Au­gust 9, 1956.

“I stand here sad­dened at the sit­u­a­tion faced by women. This will make Al­bertina Sisulu sad, be­cause this is not the Strug­gle we fought for. We did not strug­gle for per­pe­tra­tors to walk freely in the road. We fought for a just and equal so­ci­ety.

“Women don’t want any­thing; all they want is what they de­serve,” she said.

DA Women’s Net­work leader No­mafrench Mbombo, also the Health MEC in the West­ern Cape, said women were the vic­tims of ANC cor­rup­tion.

“Women bear the brunt of the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis of un­em­ploy­ment… caused by an ANC govern­ment only fo­cused on en­rich­ing them­selves and who don’t know how to man­age the real prob­lems South Africa faces.

“(A to­tal of) 41.2% of women are without work, com­pared with 33.7% of men. This hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis leaves women vul­ner­a­ble to the op­pres­sive and in­hu­mane sys­tem of pa­tri­archy and the abuse, phys­i­cal and men­tal, which ac­com­pa­nies it.”

THE Strug­gle for the to­tal eman­ci­pa­tion of women is in their hands be­cause things will not just hap­pen for them without a per­sis­tent fight, Premier David Makhura said yes­ter­day.

He was ad­dress­ing mul­ti­tudes of women on the south­ern lawn of the Union Build­ings in Tsh­wane, where they were com­mem­o­rat­ing the 1956 women’s march against the car­ry­ing of the apartheid regime’s dom­pas.

Dressed in black and ANC colours, women braved the cold to gather in the morn­ing at the Women’s Liv­ing Her­itage Mon­u­ment at Lil­lian Ngoyi Square and be­gan a 2km walk to the Union Build­ings.

The march was or­gan­ised un­der the theme “100 Years of Al­bertina Sisulu, Woman of For­ti­tude: Women United in Mov­ing South Africa For­ward”, and co­in­cided with Sisulu’s cen­te­nary birth.

Led by Makhura, thou­sands of women re­traced steps of the anti-pass laws march of 20 000 women 62 years ago.

De­liv­er­ing his mes­sage for the day, Makhura urged women to be or­gan­ised and to ex­ert pres­sure on govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions for changes to be ef­fected in their favour.

“We need women to be or­gan­ised in ev­ery sec­tor. We must put pres­sure on the in­sti­tu­tions. As the premier of Gaut­eng I know in­sti­tu­tions some­times work at their own pace. I know govern­ment of­fi­cials some­times work at their own pace,” he added.

The premier said women must not be hes­i­tant to knock on the doors of govern­ment.

“I want women who are or­gan­ised, in­clud­ing if you were to march to my of­fices on things that are not hap­pen­ing fast enough,” Makhura said.

He, how­ever, cau­tioned them not to be ill-dis­ci­plined when they marched by burn­ing pub­lic prop­erty.

“Women need to take ac­tions and some­times rad­i­cal ac­tions. I am not talk­ing about burn­ing down things be­cause women are al­ways dis­ci­plined,” Makhura said.

He told young women that it would take mil­i­tant ac­tion to get them to where they want to be.

“My mes­sage is that it took a Strug­gle to get us where we are to­day. It took sac­ri­fices by women to get us where we are to­day.”

Makhura used the op­por­tu­nity to take stock of the suc­cesses made by his ANC-led ad­min­is­tra­tion in ad­dress­ing gen­der dis­par­i­ties since he as­sumed of­fice four years ago.

“I am proud to say that in our cabi­net we have five men and five women,” he said.

How­ever, he said there was more work to be done to strike a gen­der bal­ance be­tween women and men in the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We have just fin­ished as­sess­ing the women in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gaut­eng, es­pe­cially in se­nior man­age­ment,” Makhura said.

His ad­min­is­tra­tion had a women’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion of at least 42% but was tar­get­ing 50-50 gen­der rep­re­sen­ta­tion. “I said to MECs and heads of de­part­ment to go and find women pro­fes­sion­als who are qual­i­fied,” Makhura said.

He weighed in on the gen­der pay gap is­sue, say­ing women with the same qual­i­fi­ca­tions as men needed to be equally re­mu­ner­ated.

Makhura an­nounced the de­ci­sion by his ad­min­is­tra­tion to launch the Al­bertina Sisulu Women’s Lead­er­ship De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme in hon­our of Mama Sisulu. Through the pro­gramme young women, who have some qual­i­fi­ca­tions, would be of­fered train­ing to work in the pub­lic ser­vice.

“We want to train them and in­tro­duce them to the pub­lic ser­vice. We can’t keep say­ing to the youth they must have ex­pe­ri­ence. Where will they get ex­pe­ri­ence if they are not given op­por­tu­ni­ties?”

Gen­der Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Lu­lama Nare called on govern­ment to make avail­able more fund­ing for the pro­tec­tion of women.

She de­nounced bad treat­ment per­pe­trated against women, say­ing it ought to come to a halt.

She fur­ther called on the govern­ment to cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties for women.

Zodwa Tlale, of the Pro­gres­sive Women’s Move­ment of South Africa, pleaded with women to unite ir­re­spec­tive of their po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion, say­ing they ought to em­u­late the 1956 women.

MEC for Sport, Arts, Cul­ture and Re­cre­ation Faith Maz­ibuko said: “As women we must be pro­tec­tors of girl chil­dren. We must en­sure they go to school.”

It took sac­ri­fices by women to get us where we are…

PIC­TURE: PHANDO JIKELO/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

RAISE AWARE­NESS: Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and Min­is­ter for Women in the Pres­i­dency Batha­bile Dlamini ar­rive at Mbek­weni Rugby Sta­dium for the Women’s Day event.

PIC­TURE: OUPA MOKOENA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

LEAD­ING BY EX­AM­PLE: Gaut­eng Premier David Makhura took part in the Women’s Day march from Lil­lian Ngoyi Square to the Union Build­ings in Tsh­wane yes­ter­day.

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