WHERE IS THE MINISTRY OF WOMEN?
The Ministry of Women needs to come out of its hiding hole and fight the war on the side of women. Its role must be clearly defined, articulated and implemented. Presently, it is conspicuous by its silence. Its lack of performance makes it difficult to resist the temptation to conclude that it is nothing more than a redundant Ministry designed to create employment for the ruling party’s “cadre deployment” scheme.
Or could it be that this Ministry of Women is just a token government department for a PR exercise to fool women into believing that something is about to happen in terms of transforming the South African patriarchal society and addressing the plight of women. If it is meant to be such a token, then it is not a Ministry of Women. It is a Ministry of the Agents of Patriarchy with the sinister objective of patronising women.
IMBELEKO, AZAPO women’s wing, raised a red flag the day a useless and corrupt Minister Bathabile Dlamini was protected by President Cyril Ramaphosa who preferred to dump her as a body of long dead animal on the so-called Ministry of Women, rather than show her the door. This is the same Minister Dlamini who blindly defended former ANC President Jacob Zuma and instead attacked and abused the late Khwezi during Zuma’s Rape Trial. It is a now a fact of history that IMBELEKO responded to the exiling effect of the hostility of the ruling party and its ANCWL against Khwezi by embarking on a campaign to #BringKhweziHome.
Sadly, it is true that there are women who have chosen to be agents of patriarchy by either oppressing other women or defending patriarchy. This they do against the backdrop of women being abused, attacked, raped or murdered by men on a daily basis.
The rate at which women are disappearing from their homes, schools, workplaces and in the streets is alarming, frightening and shocking. The siege under which women live in South Africa is reflected in the cries of women in every newspaper, television and radio news bulletins. Where the mass media falls short, the social media has closed the gap to make the plight of women a topical issue.
As Steve Biko once put it in relation to a Black person, it is a miracle for a woman to survive to live for the next day. Women live in constant fear of losing their lives every ticking minute. It does not matter whether they are home, street or forest. The chopping axe of patriarchal violence is forever hanging over their heads. Ironically, nowadays the street seems to be safer than home; and the stranger, more reliable than an acquaintance.
AZAPO calls on the government to declare violence against women a national crisis. That will induce a new attitude and approach on the government to not handle the chronic pain of women on an ad hoc basis. There needs to be a tightening of the laws to protect women, and the introduction of a special criminal justice dispensation to attend to the plight of women.
It is disheartening that of all national issues that are debated in Parliament; the plight of women is never one of them. Women are the cornerstone of a nation. Once a country addresses issues that oppress women, all other aspects of a nation’s suffering become lessened. The Ministry of Women is strategically positioned to raise and address women’s issues. It enjoys the institutional power to push for the enforcement of justice and decisiveness by other state organs like the Judiciary and the SAPS on matters related to women.
REWRITE HISTORY TO BUILD THE AZANIAN NATION
The Ministerial Task Team established for the purpose of checking the feasibility of teaching History as a compulsory subject in secondary schools, recommended that it be implemented as such from 2023.
The Department of Basic Education probably views the teaching of History to all learners as one of the remedies of cultivating in young people the appreciation of the liberation journey travelled during the era of the struggle against white settler-colonial rule in Azania. This may be part of the solution if correctly applied and implemented. Unfortunately, history has taught us that those in power have a tendency of manipulating the teaching of the History subject in schools to entrench their stay in power by distorting the facts of history, thereby driving society to believe in or follow a particular view that glorify their own contribution and line at the expense of really lived history.
The teaching of History is about helping learners to know how and why things happened so that they can draw constructive lessons from the historical narrative. It is this area in the teaching of this subject that is mostly manipulated by those tasked with content design who instead go out to ensure that the History content in schools support their selfish intentions and often narrow views. This often leads to the historical facts being undermined and disregarded.
The content of South African history in our schools pre-1994 was designed in such a way as to make the learners to appreciate the “heroism” of the Afrikaner, and how they managed to move this country from what they would arrogantly describe as a normal African country into a country that can fit in the First World.
The intention was never to expose learners to facts so that they can independently analyse what was presented to them, and in the process build a body of knowledge for human development. This was done by ignoring facts about the existence and contribution of other people in the shaping of our country Azania. This had the effect of creating a wrong impression that the history of Azania starts with the arrival and settling of white people in 1652.
The facts are that the human species originated in Africa; that mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, philosophy, etc, originated in Africa; that the geopolitical location of science and human development was Africa; that the western peoples had to migrate to Africa for their education and civilisation. Azania was inhabited by Africans hundreds of years before the arrival of white people.
Instead of correcting the pre-1994 situation, the new government simply added their own historical bias to the colonial bias. This compromised and sought to erase important liberation struggle values that could have been absorbed by the learners in shaping new and constructive attitudes towards nation-building.
AZAPO holds the view that it would be pointless teaching History to all learners if the idea was to perpetuate the misinformation that has until now been fed to the learners. Making the subject compulsory in its defective mode would be dangerous.
AZAPO REMEMBERS THE JUNE 16 UPRISINGS
As the flagbearer of Black Consciousness and custodian of the political legacy of Steve Biko, AZAPO commemorated the 42nd anniversary of the June 16 Uprisings throughout Azania. The main Commemoration Service was held at the Avalon Cemetery where many of the graves of young Black people who were murdered by the white settler-colonial regime are located. The graves of the leaders of the June 16 Uprisings, Tsietsi Mashinini and Khotso Seatlholo, are also there – one next to the other. The first young Black person to be shot at, Hastings Ndlovu, has his grave not very far from those of his leaders.
As per tradition, AZAPO invited the family members of the June 16 Uprisings martyrs. All were invited irrespective of their current political affiliations. AZAPO does this because it believes that days of national mourning like June 16 should be events where the world is reminded about the political significance of those days, as well using the moment to cement the process of nation-building.
The families of Mashinini, Seatlholo, Ndlovu and Buthelezi were among those that braved the chilly weather and attended the main Commemoration Service in Soweto. Together with the leadership of AZAPO, they laid wreaths and paid homage to the fallen martyrs at the Avalon cemetery.
In his address, AZAPO President Strike Thokoane told the audience that the living owed a lot to our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Black people in Azania. He expressed disappointment that after 24 years in a democracy, Black people were still landless; that Black people were generally homeless; that Black people were still ruthlessly exploited in the farms where they and their families faced evictions every day. He reiterated the commitment of AZAPO to intensify the struggle for the reconquest of the land and total liberation.
He stressed the point that the dignity of Black people should be restored. He said that could be achieved when Black people were returned to the land, and the land returned to them so that there was no need for them to live on food parcels and grants. He called on young people to stay away from alcohol and drugs because those substances were used by the enemy to take the focus of young people away from the liberation struggle.
From the solemn occasion, the audience marched all the way to Bheki Mlangeni Hospital to demand a better and efficient primary healthcare for the people. It is a tragedy that on the 42nd anniversary of the June 16 Uprisings, and 24 years into democracy, the Black people still had no quality healthcare system to enjoy. Only recently, millions of rands were spent on an arbitration to deal with the Life Esidimeni tragedy where psychiatric black patients were treated less than animals and left to die in their tens. AZAPO believes a prosperous nation will arise out of a healthy nation.
As the leading organisation of the Black Consciousness Movement, AZAPO knows that the June 16 Uprisings gripped the whole Azania. They were not restricted to Soweto, which was merely the point of rupture. For this reason, AZAPO has not called the 1976 rebellion “Soweto Day”. Also, AZAPO knows that the rejection of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction was a small part of the problem because there were bigger problems of poverty, unemployment and brutal repression. Therefore, while the youth may have been the face of the June 16 Uprisings, the rebellion assumed a nationwide character with all the segments of the Azanian masses involved. This is the reason why AZAPO never refers to the June 16 Uprisings as the “Youth Day”.
ESKOM PAY DISPARITY EXPOSES THE BARBARISM OF CAPITALISM
Revelations made by the unions involved in a wage dispute at Eskom, claiming that the Chief Executive Officer of the power utility earns R 8,5 million a year, while offering workers a zero percent increase, exposes the barbaric nature of capitalism. According to the figures released by representatives of the workers, the CEO earns a monthly salary of R 404, 201.58.
Eskom workers threatened to embark on a strike after management had offered them a zero percent increase. According to the company, this non-offer was necessitated by cost-cutting measures at the power utility because the company had no money.
It is now public knowledge that Eskom was at the centre of the so-called State Capture, whereby a business family with close ties to powerful politicians and their associates were essentially milking it dry. While it is top managers and their political friends who brought Eskom to its knees, it is ordinary workers who now have to bear the brunt of the cost cutting measures. In a bid to avoid a possible total shut-down of power supply, some advised Eskom to offer the workers a 4,7% increase. The offer is not a subject of real negotiations between the workers and the company.
As AZAPO, we have observed that our country has become the most unequal society under the current administration. The huge pay disparity between workers and management is one of the key factors increasing the gap between rich and poor. Furthermore, the huge salaries and pecks that the political elite pay themselves are the reasons why it is almost impossible to have a serious discussion with labour on the need for a social contract that will see workers moderating their wage demands to ensure that the rate of inflation is kept down in order to contribute to lowering the cost of labour so that more jobs can be created.
The system that is designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer is obviously not an appropriate economic model to address the ravages of centuries of colonialism and apartheid. But sadly, as the Elections are approaching next year, there is still no real discussion in the country about an alternative economic model. The spotlight is merely on corruption, as if ending corruption will end the barbarism of capitalism.
AZAPO is of the view that a more humane system that directly confront the rising inequality is needed to give our country a more human face, to paraphrase our political icon Steve Bantu Biko.
To print and read the pdf version, please click here to download AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue 17