When the African National Congress’s power in local government dwindles‚ the numbers of women in council suffer.
These are the findings of various pieces of research the Commission for Gender Equality said on Tuesday‚ when it released a report which deals with female representation in the eight metros following the 2016 municipal elections.
The report showed little improvement in the number of women in council seats and women office bearers in the eight metros‚ when compared with the 2011 local government elections.
CGE commissioner and former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Dr Nondumiso Maphazi said political parties are to blame for the poor numbers.
“Political parties should ensure there’s a quota of female representation‚” she said.
“On face value the majority of municipalities run by the DA (Democratic Alliance) show gender equality is not prioritised [by the party].”
Commissioner Lulama Nare said that the ANC was found to be more responsive than other parties when making submissions to the CGE and following its recommendations‚ whereas the DA “has maintained it doesn’t look at gender but merit”.
The report said that the ANC is the only party in South Africa committed to a 50/50 quota gender equality policy and has implemented the so-called ‘zebra-stripe’ strategy which ensures men and women are equally represented.
“Therefore‚ over the years the ANC has been more successful compared to other political parties in terms of ensuring that women are selected as candidates and elected as political representatives at local‚ provincial and national levels. The negative consequence of this is that if and when the ANC suffers electoral decline‚ this tends to translate into significant losses and declines in the numbers of women in politics‚” it said.
The CGE’s head researcher Dr Thabo Rapoo said that there was a common thread in the figures for female members of mayoral committee positions in the recent local government elections – the number of women decreased only in the three DA-run municipalities of Cape Town‚ Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
“These cities are run by the DA‚ that’s just a fact‚” he said.
In Buffalo City‚ run by the ANC‚ and Johannesburg‚ run by the DA‚ the figure of females representative stayed the same.
In Ekurhuleni‚ Ethekwini and Mangaung – run by the ANC – there has been an increase in female members.
Nare said saying appointments are done on merit and not gender was not good enough.
“We are saying merit doesn’t wear a trouser. We are blaming political parties for the fact that they are not compliant with the Constitution [on gender equality]‚” she said.