REMARKS BY ANC EC CHAIRPERSON AT THE EC ANCWL CONFERENCE

Programme Director:

Newly elected President of the ANC Women’s League

NEC Members of the ANC and ANC Women’s League

Leaders of the ANC Youth League and entire PYA

The Chaplains of the ANC and all faith leaders who love this movement called the African National Congress.

Comrades and Friends

We bring you revolutionary greetings from the African National Congress in the province of the Eastern Cape. Our warm congratulations are extended to all of you, the delegates to this parliament of the delegates of the women of our province and your leadership, for finally convening this provincial conference of the ANC Women’s League in our province.

Today, it feels good to be an ANC member and I hope it also feels good to you to be ANC Women’s League Members. Sisuka kude boMama beANC, sithwanxwe zinqwithelo namaqhwa kodwa ndime apha kulenkomfa yenu ndomelele kuba nizintsika ze African National Congress. Our movement is now awake and is getting renewed and is beginning to be united. The people of this province and South Africa are excited by what they see in our organization, and they will show their excitement in the 2024 elections.

Ndiyithethiswa lonto zizinto ezininzi ezintle ezenzeka kulombutho wokhokho bethu. Namhlanje langoma ithi “Lomzabalazo mdala mntanam waqalwa ngokhokho bethu” indihlaba ngaphakathi kuba the ANC is now becoming the ANC that the masses of our people know. As the ANC PEC in this province sifakwe phantsi kwempiko nini boMama beliphondo siyilwele into yokuvuselelwa kwe ANC sade sakulomhlaba ubanzi sikuwo. We appreciate the unity of purpose you displayed in the national ANC Women’s League Conference. Your unity was unprecedented and you affirmed the standing of this Province as the Home of Legends.

Our movement is becoming a united force to improve the living conditions of our people. We are getting organized as the movement comrades and all of us must applaud ourselves for the path we are traversing. We sat the ANC National Conference in December and emerged united and intact from it. All provinces of the ANC have leadership structures in place, the ANC Youth League has a leadership structure in place, the ANC Women’s league has an elected leadership in place and the ANC Veterans League also sat a very successful conference last week. That comrades is a signal for disaster for all opposition parties in this country because the ANC is ready to win the hearts and minds of South Africans again in the 2024 elections.

Imibutho ephikisayo iyangcangcazele maqabane kuba I African National Congress I ready for battle next year. Ndiyithetha lento ngebom kuba ndifuna kulenkomfa niyazi ukuba apho sijonge khona asijonganga kunyulo enizolenza apha sinjonge kunyulo lokugcina I ANC elulawulweni lwe Lizwe ukuze iqhubele phambili nokunika abantu beliphondo ubomi obungcono. The leadership you are going to elect here must be fit for purpose and be ready to mobilize the women of this province and their families to vote ANC in the next elections.

It must be a leadership that is willing, ready, and proven in wearing boots to be foot soldiers of changing people’s lives positively. It must not be an ornament leadership, arrogant and aloof leadership that is just excited by titles of being part of the top 5 and PEC of the women’s league in the Eastern Cape. It must be a leadership that understands the daily struggles of the women of this province and a leadership that is going to further champion their emancipation. It must be a leadership that is seized with improving the living conditions of old Gogos in the deep rural villages of this province who still fetch water in rivers, and who still fetch firewood to cook meals for their families. It must be a leadership that is going to champion health care for women. A leadership that is going to tell the ANC that hygiene for women in rural areas is as important as hygiene for women in townships and suburban areas of this country. Personally, I have a fundamental problem with the fact that people in rural areas particularly women do not use flush toilets. That to me is an inequality of the worst kind that you as the ANC Women’s League and all of us in the ANC must fight and win for the sake of the women and men who stay in rural areas. It’s a health issue and it is a dignity issue.

OoMama baleProvince bajonge kuni ukuba nonyule iinkokheli ezingazoba ngonozikhalazo kodwa ezikokulwela inkululeko yabo kwezoqoqosho nakwezokuhlala. Zeniqiqe xa nisonyula iinkokheli kulenkomfa niwazi umthwalo enijongene nawo. Nincede ningathwalisi iinyanda abantu abazokuhambe beziwisa nakuhletywa lilizwe.

You must all remember that the ANC Women’s League, was born out of the will to dismantle the oppressive apartheid regime and the patriarchal structures within the South African society.

Our foremothers marched on the Union Buildings against pass laws. They laid the path we tread today, making strides towards equality and emancipation. Despite the obstacles they faced, they triumphed, altering the state laws against discrimination, and fostering the transformation we see today. We celebrate their legacy, one of courage and resilience, mirrored in the contemporary role of the ANC Women’s League

The ANC is at its organisational and political best when all its leagues are well established and fully functional. This functionality is best expressed through a programme of action that best represents the views, ambitions, and social aspirations that the constituency of each league desires the most. In such conditions, the political programme of the ANC tends to represent the will of the broadest cross section of society and enables the movement to effectively articulate the real social aspirations of the people as its own.

When the leagues of the ANC are limping without a coherent organisational and political programme of action, the ANC functions like a bird with broken wings. It will walk, yes. It will scrape the ground with its feet and fend for itself to survive. However, it will struggle to soar high up in the sky to see the broadest outlines of the land. Without strong wings to carry it up high and power it forward, the ANC will not realise its true potential as a representative of the broad aspirations of the people.

Today, you are commencing with your provincial conference to produce this organisational and political programme of action. We as the ANC will keenly await this programme of action and will enthusiastically support the new leadership to be elected here in carrying out that programme.

As the ANC we rely on the ANC Women’s League to help improve our strategic understanding of women’s struggles on a continuous basis. It is for this reason that we hold this conference in high esteem and eagerly await its discussions. Your political discussions and adopted views have significant implications for the very substance of the national democratic revolution and the organisational effectiveness of the entire liberation movement.

The national liberation movement is made up of political formations of the masses of the oppressed people of our country. Amongst these oppressed people is the mass of black and African people who are victims of colonial suppression, the black working class as the exploited driving force of South African industrial capitalism, the urban unemployed as the stock of reserve labour, the rural poor as the excluded margins and the women of this land as the under-recognised source of social reproductive labour.

All these people constitute the motive forces of the national democratic revolution. By motive forces we mean that they constitute the social forces on whose political initiative the victory of the national democratic revolution depends. The improvement in the economic, political, and social conditions of the motive forces is the most objective measure of the success of the national democratic revolution. Therefore, it is also these motive forces who must be the most interested in the victory of the national democratic revolution.

Women are an active constituent of all these social classes. They exist as oppressed black and African people, they exist as the exploited industrial working class, they exist as the urban unemployed, they exist as the marginalised rural poor, and additionally bear the exclusive burden of carrying the tasks of social reproduction such as primary family care. All these factors taken together; we must conclude that women constitute a strategic political position within the scope of the primary motive forces of the national democratic revolution.

The ANC Women’s League, as a political organ of the national liberation movement, occupies a very critical role in the mobilisation of the motive forces and the victory of the national democratic revolution. The organisation of women into political action, the growth of political consciousness amongst them about the gendered nature of national and class oppression and their active leadership of the processes of struggle is a vital force for keeping the national democratic revolution as truly representative of the objective interests of the people.

It is our view as the African National Congress that the revival of the ANC Women’s League is a revival of the entire mass democratic movement. The return of the organised voice of Congress women is a vital force for political consolidation in the renewal agenda we have all so committed ourselves to at the 55th National Conference of the ANC. We therefore also congratulate you formally for the successful National Conference of the Women’s League and the election of President Sisisi Tolashe and the NEC she leads.

Throughout the ages the ANC Women’s League has played a vital role in buttressing the programme of the national liberation movement with a gendered perspective. The capacity of the ANC to internalise the specific circumstances of women under the broad crisis of national oppression was brought about by the ANC Women’s League.

Many decisive moments in the course of our national history were shaped by the interventions of women organised into political formations. We count amongst these the very act of the establishment of the Bantu Women’s League in 1918. This tradition of organising evolved into the formation of the modern ANC Women’s League, critically intervening to articulate the national liberation struggle as a process that must include women emancipation.

Many victories of the national liberation movement have since come about via the selfless initiatives and campaigns of the ANC Women’s League. The 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings still stands out as one of the defining moments in the mass campaigns of the 1950s that brought to bear the moral crisis of the Apartheid regime. It was the most significant mass uprising of that decade as it brought together women of all races under a single cause of resisting the authoritarian power of the racists. That campaign gave impetus to the entire liberation struggle and became one of the litmus tests of the national appeal of the values of the Freedom Charter that has been adopted only a year earlier, 1955, in Kliptown.

The ANC Women’s League has also played a very transformative role within the internal political life of the ANC. The agitation for the acceptance of women as full and equal members, the campaigns for a quota system in the leadership structures of the ANC and the demand for a comprehensive gender policy within the ANC have all had positive spin-offs on South African society. In transforming gender dynamics within the ANC, the ANC Women’s League has progressively impacted on national policy broadly and cultivated a broad culture of gender consciousness in the democratisation process.

Through the campaigns for a strict quota system in the democratisation process, the ANC Women’s League has successfully achieved the observance of 50/50 parity in ANC deployment processes. This is marked process from the 30% women representation that members of the ANC Women’s League so gallantly fought for at the 1991 Conference of the ANC in Durban. This, of course, was merely a launchpad for a greater advance in terms of gender transformation.

The articulation of Broad-Based Black Empowerment programmes was not spared from the advance of the cause of gender transformation. The explicit inclusion of gender within the conceptual scheme of black empowerment has forced both private and public sector entities to carry out active efforts to promote the participation of women.

Whereas progress has tended to hit humps and brick walls at time, we however cannot deny the significance of women’s efforts.

The post-1994 dispensation has seen an increase in the extension of educational, economic, social, and political opportunities for women. We see many women today standing firmly as CEOs and Senior Executives in private companies and parastatals, Ministers, MECs, Heads of Department and Directors-General in government, Vice-Chancellors in CEOs in the Post Schooling and Higher Education Sector. All of these are markers of progress in the valiant struggles of women in this country.

This progress has been uneven and sometimes there have even been reversals. Overall, nonetheless, the trend is broadly in favour of progress in terms of women registering positive strides in beating the structural fault lines of gendered exclusion. This progress is a function of progressive ANC policy brought about by the political agency of the ANC Women’s League.

As outlined by the Secretary-General of the ANC, Comrade Fikile Mbalula, at your 13th National Conference; there seems to be a particular development in South African Higher Education in which women Vice-Chancellors are facing serious challenges. This trend may very well be present even in other sectors of our public and private sectors.

The ANC Women’s League must always remember that all great progress needs to be guarded jealously. There are instances of systematic pushbacks against progress that require your strategic focus and a political willingness to jump into the arena and be counted as soldiers who hold the line in defence of your victories. Again, this provincial conference must reflect on the contemporary political terrain, highlight strategic issues that define the struggles of women in different sectors and decide on a correct course of political action that must be adopted by the ANC Women’s League.

Comrades, it is important to concede that a lot more work still needs to be done to confront the resistance of oppressive patriarchal culture. Incidents of sexual exploitation at home and in the workplace persists. There is a scourge of rape, emotional and physical abuse that is haunting our country. Rural and township women are disproportionately affected by these incidents of Gender Based Violence as poverty intensifies the scales of vulnerability and resource constraints make it hard for them to seek relief.

In terms of the poverty incidence in the province, rural women and young girls still bear the worst brunt. School going kids who are girls still battle the burden of missing school, or even dropping out, to provide care to sickly family members. This gendered trend is also visible in child headed households.

Our political programme in government has been aimed at overcoming these challenges. We have been intensifying efforts in terms of providing social security services, education, healthcare, and community safety. A combination of resource constraints in a vast and mostly rural province, alongside weaknesses in executing good plans and weaknesses in coordinating policy implementation are all conspiring to limit our success. This conference will have to discuss strategic pathways to be followed by the ANC and the government of this province to improve impact.

Comrades the road ahead is long, and the challenges are many. But, like the Women’s League, we have a history of overcoming the odds. Let this be our guiding light as we strive to forge a more equitable society, one where every woman is a torchbearer of progress.

Let us remember – when women succeed, nations prosper. As we look to the future, let this be the mantra that guides our actions and inspires our efforts.

The time to act practically to emancipate women is now. Let us seize this moment and carry forth the legacy of those brave women who marched before us. Their spirit lives in all of us, and it’s this spirit that will guide us to the society we aspire to be.

Comrades’ I am not a prophet, but opposition parties are in for a tough time in the 2024 elections. Some of them will come back with reduced seats. I can tell you now they fear an ANC that is organized and united even if they don’t say so. They see that we are readying our entire cardreship for the election battle. Our communication machinery must now be aggressive comrades, we must tell the story of the progress we have made in implementing the 2019 election manifesto. There is a lot that we have done, you know it and I know it.

With all our leadership structures in place in this province we are ready to go to our communities to convince our people that the ANC remains their only viable vehicle to advance the gains of our democracy. We are going to campaign in all platforms, kodwa ndicela siqinise kumntu emntwini, ubuso ngobuso. Apho bahlala khona abantu bakuthi masiye kubo ngobuninzi bethu, sithobeke kubo kwaye sibenobulali, sibaxelele sizokulingisa apho senze iziphoso khona. Lastly to those who are busy moonlighting, those Dunals , I want to caution them that siyababona and alert you as O R Tambo did and said. “Beware of the wedge driver, the man who creeps from ear to ear , caring a bag full of wedges , driving them between you and the next man, between a group and another , a man who goes round creating splits and divisions. Beware of the wedge driver comrades. Watch his poisonous tounge”

Amandlaaa!!! Viva women’s league viva !!!. Long live the spirity of mama u Maxeke long live !!!!

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