ANC is biased in favour of women and the poor

Baleka Mbete

Baleka Mbete

Historically the African National Congress has always been guided by its founding principles of building a nonracial, nonsexist and united South Africa that promotes a better life for all its citizens.

In the implementation of these principles and in the furtherance of policies that are biased in favour of the poor and the marginalised, we have consciously been guided by the highest decision-making body, the conference.

National conferences are mainly the representatives of the branches, which form 90 percent of them.

The national conference adopts resolutions that spell out policy on various matters.

The national conference also elects people to lead the implementation processes of these policies in between conferences.

The processes of democracy in electing leadership are a hallmark of the ANC. Those of us who grew up and matured in the movement, can testify to the fact that leadership selections are made to ensure that during the period between conferences a few of us take responsibility in leading in a range of ways in carrying out the pronouncements of conferences.

Most recently this responsibility involved taking decisions on issues of governance. The mandate of the last conference had to determine how to respond to the nitty gritty of recent challenges.

This included how to decide on deployments at various levels in government and to sustain ANC authority in keeping with the mandate given at the last election.

As our president Jacob Zuma has maintained we have in the second decade of our democracy lived up to our constitution to ensure that all structures of the ANC include a 50 percent representation of women. We have been steadfast in championing progressive policies on women.

In practice we have done more to make certain that gender equality is realised at all levels in all sectors of our society, including in the government and in the private sector.

For this reason all disciplined members of the ANC accept tasks from the movement and women are part of such decision-making, bearing in mind that we have upheld the position that there will be "No decision about us without us", especially on issues that matter to us, our families, our communities and our country.

The collective decision to elect Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as president of the country on the basis that he is the most senior official after Zuma (who is not a member of parliament) was taken in this spirit.

Nothing else would have been correct given the above context.

In its long history the ANC has relied on a pool of leaders capable of rising to roles that require men and women who will implement policies of fighting unemployment, halving poverty, bettering healthcare and education provision.

This is what my predecessor, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has ably proven in her position since 2005.

I humbly thank the ANC for entrusting me with this responsibility to serve the people of South Africa to the best of my abilities, albeit for a short period.

In the post-1994 era women have played significant roles as ministers, deputy ministers and deputy presidents. I believe we should have a woman president one day.

We also have hundreds of women who continue to play significant roles in, among other capacities, business, community service, education, health and many other roles.

These women contribute to the collective agenda of improving the lives of our people in a quest for creating a prosperous country.

We must celebrate and salute all women for contributing to a better South Africa in their respective fields of work.

lThe writer is Deputy President of South Africa.