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It's now up to Bathabile to prove us all wrong

Bathabile Dlamini
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Mr President, I'm cataclysmically shocked at the appointment of Minister Bathabile Dlamini to the Women's Ministry. Okay, I'm being melodramatic ... I'm just perturbed.

The Women's Ministry has a potential of being key in charting the path for women's relevance socioeconomically, politically and culturally.

Her tenure as ANC Women's League president is rather furtive in its impact and that's just putting it mildly. With her myopia of hindsight, she neglected to have an impactful strategy ensuring there's representation of women in the ANC top six. Looking at this failure at party level, I have my doubts about her running the Women's Ministry. There's clearly lack of vision and leadership. And now we have her as a minister of women?

Ao bathong, Ntate Presidente Ramaphosa, ke sehloho sa eng se mara? (Good gracious Mr President, what calamity is this?)

My discontent with her stems from last year's ANC election conference. I asked myself what the ANC Women's League has done to ensure that gender issues were realised within the ANC structures? Does the league have a long-term strategy that details the nuances around ensuring ongoing participation of women in presidential elections as a norm? Was there even a campaign strategy/ plan for the women candidates?

It's said history judges us by the wisdom of our actions. Unfortunately, Minister Dlamini's actions from her previous portfolio, demonstrated not much wisdom. But, I will give her the benefit of the doubt.

Firstly, my expectations are that over and above its mandate, the department should also look into issues and problems women face every day, and run targeted initiatives to address them. There are invisible socioeconomic, cultural and emotional scars left on women, and they are real.

We need to evolve and have a rigorous holistic approach in addressing matters affecting women.

Secondly, to ensure that gender issues are not only normalised economically, and be content with seeing previously male-dominated sectors and positions filled by women. The minister needs to fight and ensure women occupy key executive positions of power and influence in numbers. It shouldn't be a matter of achieving quotas. She needs to be preoccupied with ensuring that 50/50 gender parity is reached in the next cabinet. We've never had the finance portfolio occupied by a woman. We have serious lingering women issues in this country that need urgent attention.

I hope the minister will resurrect the department from the early death it was plunged into by her predecessors. The ministry isn't ephola station.

If no impact is evident in the next 18 months, then the president should look into having some ministerial portfolios occupied by private sector persons and not ANC NEC members with a political background - because the former ministers failed to demonstrate leadership in their portfolios and were liabilities.

So, Minister Dlamini, use this opportunity to restore yourself to your former glory of candour and gung-ho leadership. You're not only supping champagne in a "last chance saloon", you're given a lifeline! In the face of this barracking, please prove us wrong.

- Ramaila is a former public servant and is currently on academic sabbatical

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