Must embrace fact that women make good leaders too

THERE has been a gender outcry after the ANC announced names of its premier candidates for the eight provinces it governs.

Those belching rebuke argue that the ANC is digressing from the progress it made a few years ago. If one looks at the numeric mechanics, this argument might have merit but politically, it doesn't.

All of us in the ANC are not happy that we only have one female premier, but there is nothing we can do about that now. We can only encourage a solution for the future and for cabinet appointments.

Anyone who has observed pre-ANC elective conference lobbying for positions will agree that since 1912, there has never been a woman touted for the presidency and there have been very few for the chairperson position. This is wrong, but could also be revealing how women within the ANC have failed to push themselves to positions of leadership.

Imagine if all lobby lists ahead of each conference had an equal number of women and some were led by women. We have never had this. We are likely not to have it in the near future.

For us to think of having more women premier candidates, we must learn from previous instances where we had female premiers outside the leadership structures. There were serious gaps between the ANC and government, causing serious delays and limitations in delivery.

If we want to have equal gender representation in leadership structures, we must first encourage a similar activism in the ANC structures like branches and leagues before we talk about regions, provinces and national. There is no doubt, patriarchy could contribute to lesser participation.

The ANC has many women with leadership qualities but we must not assume that they should be put into positions of power because of their gender. The democrats in us must encourage women participation in ANC structures and elective conferences to a point where they don't become king makers but queens or kings themselves.

The ANC Women's League must take the lead in this. If it doesn't, as has been the case since its inception, female comrades outside the league will have to step up to the plate and engage for leadership positions.

There are scores of female leaders who can lead this internal revolution within the ANC. It is a shame that they have not yet done that.

The Eastern Cape has had two female premiers, both outside the provincial executive committee and leadership structures. That had its pros and cons, so as the province we can't be blamed when we nominate Phumulo Masualle to be premier.

The manner in which the women's league is structured is that it appeals more to elderly black women than to all areas, races, ages and levels of women, including young girls. When you have this perception about the league, more young women will participate in the youth league and in the mother body only. We have skilled women in many sectors. What this signals is that we have a pool of credible leaders we can draw from at any given time.

ANC structures have to embrace the fact that women are as good leaders as their male counterparts. Beyond producing a female president, the ANC has to develop a cadre of competent and confident female leaders to help provide leadership where they are deployed, employed and appointed.

Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, ANC member and public servant