Debate on the President`s State of the Nation Address by the hon member cde Nonhlanhla Ncube-Ndaba
25 June 2019
Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker,
His Excellency President Ramaphosa
Deputy President DD Mabuza
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Bahlali base Mzansi
The ideal of creating a National Democratic Society can only be realised through efforts aimed at undoing patriarchal relations of power, in the same way we give efforts to eradicating racial oppression and class super exploitation. Our Constitution profoundly identifies ‘non-sexism’ and ‘non-racialism’ as its ‘foundational values’. The inclusion of the term ‘non-sexism’ was not an accident of birth, but was born out of a collective dream towards realising a democratic society that is free, not just from racial oppression, but equally free from gender inequalities and discrimination.
During a series of lectures presented in universities across the country in the centenary year of Oliver Tambo’s birth, former Justice Albie Sachs gives a reflection on a workshop held by the ANC in 1988 in Lusaka, which was meant to present the Constitutional Guidelines which would form the basis for the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Speaking on behalf of the women who attended the workshop, our fallen stalwart, the late Mme Ruth Mompati, made the following remarks, and I quote:
“I see in the Introduction we speak of three hundred years of colonialism and racism. But we say nothing about a millennium of male domination…And what about the sexism we encounter in our daily lives today inside the organisation? It’s not just inequality in structures that we are talking about. It’s the culture, the values, the things people just take for granted in their daily life that are keeping us back”, I close quote.
The dream of realising a world that would not only denounce racial domination, but equally put in efforts to undo male domination was beginning to take form. Dreams act as a compass to choose a path among many options; they shape our choices and ultimately link to a purpose in life.
This dream formed as a basis for our progressive Constitution that is recognized worldwide.
Ultimately, the text of the Constitutional Guidelines was changed to speak not only of three hundred years of racial domination, but served as a benchmark which denounced a millennium of male domination.
Gender-Based Violence and Femicide
Gender-Based Violence is a profound and widespread problem in South Africa, impacting on almost every aspect of life. It is systemic and deeply entrenched in institutions, cultures and traditions. While Government’s posture towards GBV has been a commitment towards primary prevention through awareness creation, community engagements and holding perpetrators accountable, we must emphasize that there is no single factor alone that is a direct cause of GBV. It is caused by a combination of drivers operating at different levels of the social ecology.
Which is why the approach to GBV cannot be one-dimensional. It affects society as a whole, and as such, require collective efforts from all sectors of society. This stance recognises the complexity of GBV and highlights its deep rooted nature in relation to the history and socio-economic realties of South Africa. In this regard, through legislative reforms, specific programmes, and to an extent, public private partnerships, the ANC-led Government has continuously prioritized the improvement of women access to justice and economic opportunities.
Multi-sectorial approach to address GBV
During our elections campaign trail, the ANC made a commitment to our electorate towards prioritizing gender mainstreaming across all sectors of society, the most important being that of building safer communities and safer lives, we committed to “equip police and courts to support survivors of gender-based violence”. In keeping with this commitment, President Cyril Ramaphosa, on Thursday night, delivered his second State of the Nation Address and noted that “ending gender-based violence is an urgent national priority that requires the mobilisation of all South Africans and the involvement of all institutions.” Work is already underway in the Presidency as an indication of the serious nature of this scourge, and reflecting Government’s commitment to tackle it.
In November 2018, a Presidential Summit Against GBV and Femicide was held where the President sat down with civil society organisations to chart priorities to end GBV. The Summit was part of the 25 demands handed to the Office of the Presidency by the #TotalShutDown movement on 01 August 2018.
The Presidential Summit Declaration was later launched on 29 March 2019 at the Booysen’s Sexual Offences Court in response to Article 9 of the Summit Declaration. On this day, the President signed the Summit Declaration together with key civil society organisations. This Declaration is historic in the sense that it was the very first to be concluded on GBV and Femicide and between government and civil society.
It must be stated that while the life sentences imposed at the Sexual Offences Courts on cases received from the Thuthuzela Care Centres increased by 36.5% in the 2017/18 financial year, we are not blind to the realities that survivors of GBV face through secondary victimization. The re-traumatization of the sexual assault, abuse or rape victims reproduces itself through victim blaming, inappropriate behaviour or language by medical personnel and police officials who handle such sensitive cases. We, thus, implore the Minister of Police to take on the plea of women across the country and racial spectrum to ensure that when survivors report these atrocious crimes that they are handled with compassion and sensitivity from police officials.
This scary and sad reality is emphasised by Prof Phumla Gqola in her book entitled ‘Rape, A South African Nightmare’. Professor Gqola writes about The Female Fear Factory and states that, and I quote: “The manufacture of female fear is concerned with regulating women’s movement, sexuality and behaviour. If women fear that they will be punished for being raped and for speaking about it, and they see evidence of this repeatedly in how other women who survive are treated, it makes sense that although many go for counselling, they may choose not to report it to the police”, close quote.
We encourage that all incoming Portfolio Committees in this 6th Parliament exercise their oversight mandate without fear or favour in ensuring that gender mainstreaming becomes a reality through the sufficient allocation of adequate resources.
Priorities of the State of the Nation Address
Arising from the seven key priorities mentioned by the President, gender mainstreaming should be included and prioritised in the planning of programmes of each Department and SoEs.
The seven priorities should effectively respond to GBV, addressing patriarchy and contributing to economic transformation hinges on the following:
Economic transformation and job creation will require more attention in terms of creating jobs, equal pay for equal work and creating an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs to truly flourish;
Education, skills development and health will yield high health returns to investing in the education of women and young girls. Well educated individuals experience better health;
Social cohesion and safe communities, based on the Department of Social Development’s Framework which seeks to build Safe Communities for Women to prevent gender-based violence; and lastly;
A capable and ethical state and better South Africa and a better world to tackle employment, inequality and poverty. The National Development Plan chapter 13 envisions the achievement of a ‘capable and developmental state’, which places the State at the centre for enabling, regulating and redistributing efforts and plans to addressing GBVF.
In conclusion Honourable Speaker, in echoing the sentiments of President Ramaphosa, let me equally make a clarion call on all South Africans to become champions of the fight against gender-based violence and femicide. A dream is an invitation to do something! As such, the ANC invites society at large, political parties across this House and civil society to be part of this dream in realising a society free from GBV and create a society where women and children feel safe and are safe at all times and in all places”.
MONGAMELI, SITHUME SONKE!