Sharney Nel looks at recent comments made by Minister Angie Motsheka regarding a woman president in South Africa.
As a female student who strongly advocates for women in powerful and influential positions, I was rather disappointed by the recent statement made by Angie Motshekga, president of the ANC Women’s League, about the government not being ready for a woman as president. Various reports in the media have covered Motshekga’s statement indicating that the ANC (and country) is not ready for a woman president due to “traditions and processes” within the ANC that would render such a proposal “a futile battle”. This statement highlights two points, which is that Motshekga regards the traditions and processes within the ANC as more important than the progress of its women, and that she is not bold enough to propose, let alone crusade against these traditions and processes. Motshekga has therefore lost the “futile battle” without so much as attempting to challenge the status quo.
Apart from being disappointed in Motshekga as an influential women’s leader, her position as Basic Education Minister highlights further concern as the way in which women are to conquer the current patriarchal hierarchy in South African politics and business is, first and foremost, through education. One woman who has conversely attempted to challenge current issues this country faces in education is Agang SA Leader Mamphela Ramphele. City Press covered a story by Ramphele in which she highlights the poor “quality of education”, holding the post-apartheid government responsible. When questioned about the higher numbers in university graduates under the current government leadership, Ramphele’s response was: “We spend the largest proportion of government expenditure on education than any other country, with the worst outcome”. Ramphele obtained this information from “a recent report on global competitiveness” and advised that the poor quality of education explains the high unemployment rates.
The Mail and Guardian reported on a response to Ramphele’s speech by Angie Motshekga in which she accuses Ramphele of “looking for a hobby” and denies the claims about the poor quality of education. Motshekga also uses the opportunity to praise her position within the ANC government by presenting the Mail and Guardian with a “slideshow” featuring “37 new schools in the Eastern Cape”. This is rather disturbing coming from the Basic Education Minister as the Basic Education Department have compiled reports of more than 4500 schools which have closed since 2007 due to “the decline in pupil numbers as a result of poor performance of township and rural schools”. As Minister of this department it is shocking that Motshekga seems “uneducated” or at least in denial about the reports compiled within her own department. This is clearly indicated in her denial about Ramphele’s claims regarding the poor quality of education.
It does however shed light on Angie Motshekga’s position regarding the ANC and country not being ready for a woman as president. Her own example certainly justifies her point through her questionable performance in her own department. This is arguably due to her lack of boldness in challenging the status quo of patriarchal dominance, and her denial of the poor quality of education, in a department which assembles the reports to prove it and of which she is the government minister.
As for the country, I think we are more than ready to have a woman as president and we certainly have platforms other than the ANC to look to in providing bold, competent, educated and adequate candidates.