WOMEN

Observer on Saturday - - Analysis & Opinion - Bayethe wena waPhakathi!

With 2018 only a mat­ter of less than two months away and the na­tional elec­tions in about nine months, I am not so con­fi­dent again that we will im­prove the num­bers of women in key po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion mak­ing po­si­tions.

This I say based on the out­come of last week’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

If the 23 000 peo­ple who reg­is­tered for the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions was to be used a sam­ple of things to come in 2018 na­tional elec­tions, then I can only en­cour­age all par­ties con­cerned with women em­pow­er­ment to start think­ing of other strate­gies to en­cour­age their par­tic­i­pa­tion.

About 74 coun­cil po­si­tions were up for con­tes­ta­tion only 10 per cent of women got elected. In fact, not even the to­ken ges­ture of elect­ing them into po­si­tions of be­ing mayor is go­ing to dis­guise the un­der­per­for­mance.

I do hear that the Jus­tice and Con­sti­tu­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Edgar Hil­lary has al­ready tabled in Par­lia­ment a Bill seek­ing to elect women into the House of Assem­bly.

Based on our elec­toral sys­tem and our pa­tri­ar­chal so­ci­ety one would ap­peal to the men who are cur­rently on the driv­ing seat of leg­is­la­tion to be sym­pa­thetic to the is­sue when deal­ing with the Bill.

I am aware that a lot of rhetoric is go­ing on around the need to elect women into po­si­tions of power and so far it is noth­ing but just that – sim­ple talk.

Aware­ness and sen­si­ti­sa­tion is good, but we need to go be­yond that and put in place laws and poli­cies that would en­cour­age the el­e­va­tion of women into lead­er­ship po­si­tions.

I have read as well this week that Gen­der Links is call­ing for the few women who have been elected to be elected into the po­si­tions of mayor. Whilst I am not averse to such an idea, but such is noth­ing but to­kenism, where the ma­jor­ity de­cid­ing on the di­rec­tion of the coun­cil are men, who are the ma­jor­ity. What would a may­oress do if the male dom­i­nated coun­cil de­cides to vote against her in many of the is­sues?

The only thing that hap­pens is that the flavour or the face is that of woman, but the power be­hind the seat is male hence the choices be­ing made in­flu­enced by men.

The SADC Gen­der Pro­to­col and many other in­ter­na­tional in­stru­ments we have signed are pro­mot­ing the elec­tion of women into lead­er­ship po­si­tions.

The only way such a sit­u­a­tion can be guar­an­teed is through quar­ter sys­tem, where cer­tain struc­tures are obliged to field a cer­tain num­ber to be women.

In a sys­tem where such is left to the vot­ers and a so­ci­ety where males still dom­i­nate the po­lit­i­cal and so­cial land­scape, ex­pect­ing the coun­try to reach at least the 30 per cent and 50 per cent women rep­re­sen­ta­tion will be like play­ing lot­tery.

The only thing that would en­hance the women num­bers would be through a de­lib­er­ate ap­point­ment by the ap­point­ing author­ity and by the mem­bers of par­lia­ment when elect­ing se­na­tors.

The Bill should state for in­stance that in the case where women elected MPs are less than 20 per cent, the House when elect­ing the 10 se­na­tors should elect at least seven women. The same way should be ex­pected of the ap­point­ing author­ity where he gets to ap­point 20 Se­na­tors and 10 MPs.

Only in that way can we be in a po­si­tion to boost the num­bers of women in lead­er­ship po­si­tions.

Com­ing back to the re­cent Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions, in my space they don’t even qual­ify to be called elec­tions, but can be best de­scribed as selec­tions.

There was no voter ed­u­ca­tion in this elec­tion hence prob­a­bly the low num­bers of women who were elected is not even sur­pris­ing.

In the main, those who were elected are in the main re­turn­ing coun­cilors who al­ready knew the game.

Those who may have been in­ter­ested but had no idea how to po­si­tion them­selves where not at­tended too, hence they were left out.

The Elec­tions and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion has to take the blame for this by ab­di­cat­ing its re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The peo­ple who were as­signed the re­spon­si­bil­ity to run the elec­tions were not im­par­tial; they had in­ter­ests on who gets back into coun­cil as they are the min­istry re­spon­si­ble for lo­cal gov­ern­ment af­fairs.

Ef­fort

The EBC has to now dou­ble its ef­fort if it aims to de­liver a cred­i­ble na­tional elec­tion next year, where ev­ery­one ir­re­spec­tive of gen­der or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion feels part and par­cel of the ex­er­cise.

To the or­gan­i­sa­tions pro­mot­ing the elec­tion of women into lead­er­ship po­si­tions, they must know that ev­ery space mat­ters. Th­ese lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions mat­tered as well, we can­not only pick and choose where we want to place women, ev­ery space is key.

We need more women num­bers in the run­ning of our coun­cils and they should have taken in­ter­ests and made sure that they pre­pared them to stand for elec­tion.

In clos­ing, let me com­mend His Majesty the King for lead­er­ship he has demon­strated in the Swazi­land Chris­tian and Med­i­cal Univer­sity is­sue, which was be­com­ing a po­lit­i­cal hot potato. Bayethe

We say for the wise in­ter­ven­tion and surely that demon­strates your com­mit­ment to vi­sion 2022.

The de­ci­sion to sus­pend classes by gov­ern­ment was bad and such should be avoided at all costs in fu­ture.

We needed to think for the stu­dents and the par­ents who were pay­ing their tu­ition fees. Ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues needed to be ad­dressed ad­min­is­tra­tively.

It is un­for­tu­nate to­day that the ICT Min­is­ter Dum­sani Nd­langa­mandla has been a vic­tim of the stu­dents’ anger re­ac­tion, but he will learn and start to ap­pre­ci­ate their mantra of col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity.

We do not con­done the vi­o­lent con­duct of the stu­dents, but their sit­u­a­tion was frus­trat­ing not to them alone, but all those con­cerned with their well be­ing.

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