We gather here today to bid farewell to one of the Eastern Cape’s finest sons. Comrade Stof, a beloved comrade and friend, embodied more than most the values and qualities that we seek in ourselves.

The African National Congress (ANC) shaped his life the organization that he loved so deeply and to which he remained loyal.

He was a revolutionary reverend and a revolutionary politician. He was unwavering in his faith and firm in his political convictions. He lived his life in pursuit of the Biblical injunction that the oppressed shall be set free and the hungry shall be fed.

As we gather here on this sad day, we can say with conviction that Makhenkesi Stofile was an architect of hope and a combatant for social justice. We celebrate a life lived in service and devotion and the outstanding contribution that he has made to our country and to its people.

Even as we pay tribute to his outstanding contribution, we yearn at this moment in the history of our nation for people of the caliber and character of Makhenkesi Stofile. He was a person of great courage. He risked his life for his people and his movement. He is one of the many leaders and members of our movement who endured persecution and imprisonment.

Leaders who are prepared to sacrifice in the way that he did are rare.

Now, at this moment, we need people of courage like Cde Stof. We need people who understand, as he did, that politics must be about putting the country first, people who will stand up for what is right, people who will stand up and uphold the values of our movement. We need people who will not only ask difficult questions of ourselves, of our movement, of our leaders, but people who are prepared to do the demanding and exacting work required to truly transform our society.

Makhenkesi Stofile was a person of outstanding integrity who lived his life based on the values of our movement. He had an essential honesty rooted in his profound respect for the rights, dignity and humanity of others.

He was humble, unassuming, not given to affectation.

Now, perhaps more than ever, we need people of integrity like Cde Stof. We need people who reject the notion that politics is about the promotion of one’s narrow self-interest, people who will not succumb to the temptations of public office; who will not take for themselves what rightly belongs to the masses. In a society that prizes status and wealth, we need people who, like Cde Stof, regard the lowliest among us as the most significant, the most valued.

He believed that politics should fundamentally be about morality. Rev Makhenkesi Stofile was a disciplined cadre of our movement. He knew that leaders must earn the trust of the people by articulating a coherent moral vision that is compelling, that describes and exemplifies a national democratic society and that reflects the values enshrined in our Constitution.

He paid great attention to the detail of running an organization, believing that the ANC was only as strong as its branches.

If we are to be the honest leaders that Cde Stof urged us to be, we cannot lay him to rest without acknowledging the anguish that he felt at the state of our movement and our national democratic revolution.

In the weeks before his passing, he expressed a concern that the ANC may lose Nelson Mandela Bay and other key centers. As the results of the local government elections came in, his fears were confirmed.

We must recognize, as he did, that unless we act with urgency and determination to correct our flaws, to address our weaknesses, we place many of the gains of our democratic revolution at risk.

It is at moments like this – as we confront new and difficult challenges – that we need people like Cde Stof, people who will rise above the petty jealousies that infect our public life, people who will work tirelessly for the unity of the oppressed and for the unity of the movement that leads them.

He worked tirelessly to bring together South Africans of all races into a common effort to build a new, united nation. He firmly believed in gender equality and in the advancement of women in all spheres of national life.

His sense of humour was legendary. Who can forget his mischievous chuckle, his belly-deep laugh, and his love of life?

On behalf of government and the people of South Africa, I convey to the Stofile family and friends our deepest condolences on this profound loss.

May you find comfort and strength, as we seek to do, in the fact that he lived his life to the fullest and served his people with courage and distinction.

Reverend Stofile has now joined the illustrious legion of departed stalwarts from this province who served their country with commitment, passion and selflessness.

Hamba Kahle Mkhonto.

Your struggle, our struggle, the people’s struggle, continues.

May your soul rest in eternal peace.






The 4th local government electoral results have shocked the consciousness of the oldest liberation movement on the African continent and imposed the maxim famously affirmed by the late Nigerian literary giant, Chinua Achebe, who averred that when attempting to understand a profound and history altering crisis – we must seek to know ‘where did the rain first beat us’.

The maxim posits an ethical dynamic that, if pursued honestly, should lead to a reflection by those among us whose spiritual character has been moulded in the central ethos of the African National Congress (ANC).

We must examine the ethics that govern the relationship between ourselves, as leaders of the ANC from the local to the national, with our people who have entrusted us with the responsibility of leadership.

Whilst undertaking this difficult exercise, we must abandon conspiratorial thought and machinations as this will only deepen our afflictions.

The facility of serious self examination has served the movement of Luthuli and Tambo well in its more than hundred years of glorious existence.

In fact, it has been the ability to self examine and alter course that has turned some of our perilous moments in history into triumphs. The ‘Non Aggression Pact’ of 1984, popularly known as the Nkomati Accord, between the then President of Mozambique, Samora Machel, and the neo-colonial apartheid regime of South Africa headed by P W Botha represented such a calamitous moment.

The Nkomati Accord meant, in the first instance, the legitimization of the apartheid criminal regime and chocking off of the critical frontline states (Southern African States) transit routes. The treacherous Nkomati Accord had a debilitating effect in that it dislocated the ANC’s operational infrastructure.

Particularly affected was the ability of infiltrating man and weapons into South Africa. This was a serious setback for an organization whose central tactic was the ability to freely enter what was then enemy territory.

The ANC responded with composure and foresight to the crisis. Firstly, the ANC restructured and intensified its underground structures and decidedly reverted to its core business of clandestine work. Secondly, the movement of Plaatje and Dube acuminated its diplomatic dexterity, a resource that had been encoded in its DNA since its founding, and would be on full display in the early 1990s when negotiating the democratic breakthrough and spurring the country towards a bloody civil war.

Diplomatic efforts were undertaken by numerous ANC leaders with SADC (frontline states) leaders. This was an extraordinary feat, considering that these were guerrilla leaders engaging with legitimate heads of states to arrest the contagion from the Nkomati Accord. Lady history was also kind to our movement because most of the frontline states were headed by revolutionary luminaries like Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania who were supportive to our struggle for self determination.

The second calamitous moment of crisis that was turned into a triumph was the   Nkatashinga Mutiny in Angola, precipitated by our (Mkhonto WeSizwe) involvement in what was in essence an Angolan civil war. We were engaged in bloody and distracting skirmishes with the reactionary Unita led by Jonas Savimbi.

Casualties in our ranks, led to mutiny within MK. Soldiers complained about the lavish lifestyles that senior leaders were living, whilst they led austere lives in the camps. Soldiers also complained of the excesses and abuse by the MK’s intelligence unit, Mbokodo. And most importantly, rank and file soldiers were eager to be deployed into South Africa and militarily confront the apartheid regime.

After the mutiny was violently suppressed, the leadership of the ANC once again turned a painful moment into a lasting triumph. The most important and farsighted response was the establishment of the Stuart Commission whose findings had a jurisprudential cumulative effect of firm establishment of human rights and due process. That legacy is reflected in the Constitution of the republic.

Those amongst us who traversed our many communities campaigning for the ANC were confronted with excitement from the vast of our community members who have tasted and experienced service delivery by the ANC government. At the same time we were also confronted with seething frustration from those still waiting for services.

Despite all this, the vast majority of communities spoke of and expressed gratitude on the delivery of services by the ANC government. These ranged from houses or shelter, roads infrastructure, water and energy supply as well as health and social services which they considered an important aspect of restoring their dignity.

Whilst recognising the good, steady progress made by the ANC government, communities also raised a host of challenges and areas of dissatisfaction.

They spoke of the need to fast-track the delivery of services and the need for improvements in some of the shoddy work undertaken in the process of delivering services.

This included potholes that remained unfixed; erratic water and energy supply that occasionally disrupts daily life. They spoke of inaccessibility to government institutions and an unacceptable pace of job creation.

People spoke of complacency by ANC leaders who believed themselves to have a Divine Right to lead.

History has once again placed a perilous moment before us. We have been called upon to introspect and self correct. For the current day ANC, there can be no better moment to humble itself and be truly one with our communities.

The outcome of the local government elections has deeply humbled the ANC and without a doubt we can no longer afford not to act in a manner consistent with the reasonable desires of our people. We are going back to each household, both those who voted the ANC, and those who took a view to abstain, to engage them truthfully with sincerity.

We will be doing this, for we fully know that the masses of our people did not reject the ANC out of a desire to send it to a state of extinction, but rather to wake it from a slumber of complacency. History has once again placed a perilous moment before us. We must draw from our rich reservoir of history and respond with foresight, humility and service driven consciousness.







Monday the 23rd of August saw the first inaugural meeting of the City of Johannesburg’s new council.

As had been expected, the meeting was going to be a showdown between different political parties on who should govern the economic hub of the Gauteng Province.

The ANC, although receiving the highest amount of votes and seats in council, would like any other party need to inspire confidence in fellow councillors within council on the candidates it would nominated for the position of Speaker, Mayor and Chief Whip in order to get the above 50% plus one.

Thus the rights for councillors to vote and be voted for freely in these position was a critical component of a maturing democracy void of any intimidation.

One cannot proclaim to be a defender of democracy on one hand and in the work to its detriment.

Although such hypocrisy is to be expected from the Economic Freedom Fighters, never has one experienced it as such a close range as was the case with having to oversee the election process with the party’s deputy leader Floyd Shivambu as a counterpart party agent.

Perhaps one should have expected it when Shivambu decided to be a party agent (the only party to send a national leader to do this task) Indeed all parties have a right to delegate any member of their organisation to be party agent, but surprisingly the EFF choose him.

At first hand, one suspected that the EFF sent its second most senior member as a reflection of the lack of confidence they have in their ordinary member or leaders of their regional structures in Joburg. One can’t imagine the ANC, DA or IFP sending a National Leader of their organisation to oversee voting of regional areas when there are other layers of capable leadership at lower structures of the organisation. The EFF felt the process could only be managed by its Deputy President through the use of intimidation tactics.

So it started, first a scathing attack on the credibility of the proceeding officer before we had even agreed on the voting processes.

The words and phrases of “we are in charge here”, “we won’t be told by you” and “we are going to tell you how things are going to run here” flowed easily from the honourable Deputy President of the EFF’s lips.

What startled me the most is the lack of basic understanding of the right to cast your vote in secret, which was consistently undermined and wrongfully interpreted by the so- called commissar of the EFF.

Perhaps the EFF’s own insecurities, rightly or wrongly so, of the fighters they were deploying to Joburg council, was on display.

This induced such high levels of intimidation that EFF and DA councillors felt obliged to contravene Section 47 subsection 6 (B) and (C) of the Municipal Electoral Act, which not only require one to “mark the ballot paper of papers in secrecy” but further to also “fold the ballot paper or papers to conceal the voters vote”.

As the ANC raised this objection with the IEC that councillors must not open their ballots upon marking. This as was viewed on TV by South Africans translated to halting of voting for over 20 minutes. At this stage, it was remarkable to see the response and arguments of the “defenders of the democracy and constitution” in the form of the EFF and DA party agents.

It was clear, presented to them by the ANC in black and white as contained the Electoral Act of 2000 as amended.

Yet the second highest member of the so called government in waiting could not appreciate the need for the voting process to be in secrecy.

At the core of this procedure is the right to express your choose void of any intimidation even from the ranks of your one’s own party members. Thus the debate, or the lack their off from the EFF and DA party agent, ensued against a visibly clear clause which did not require for one to have a masters in law degree from Harvard to understand, but more importantly appreciate.

When it was clear that they had run out of insults against us and that their argument was slippery to say the least, they began to retreat to their station with what we thought was a free lecture on South African Constitutional law and the legislative requirement on voting.

This was however short lived when 5 minutes later the ANC had to once again object to fighters now taking pictures in the voting booth.

These are lessons we must not take lightly as a young democracy in the process of robust change in some of our areas in our country.

The ANC has a responsibility in its defence of democracy not only to protect those who voted for it, but even those who voted against it even when it is their own party members who apply this pressure. Thus the IEC ruled in favour of the ANC in Joburg on both these issues, accordingly the ANC objection not only protecting the choice of its councillors but also that of its counterpart councillors in this new peculiar coalition of the EFF and DA.







We, from the onset, would like to say with a heavy and a bleeding heart that the ANC could not get governing majorities in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Tshwane Metro, and the Johannesburg Metro.

This led to opposition parties forming coalition governments, unseating this glorious movement of our people from governing these Metros.

Undoubtedly, these Metros are critical to the economy of the country as they control serious budgets. Had we continued to govern these Metros with our pro-poor policies and informed by the National Democratic Revolution, we could have continued to change the lives of our people for the better as we have undisputedly already started to do so.

We, equally in the same breath, thank the millions of South Africans who voted us into the various municipalities and metros throughout the length and breadth of our country. We will not take your confidence in us for granted.

The losses we have suffered are not because any other party is better than the ANC. The losses and set-backs suffered in these elections are self-inflicted. The message sent to us by our people by not voting in their majority and including many who abstained and decided to stay at home has been loud and clear and we have heard it.

We will definitely change our behavior and posture including that of being perceived as being aloof, inward-looking, self-serving and arrogant.

We will also deal decisively with any perceptions of us being soft on corruption, whilst at the same time acting without any delay against those who manipulated our candidate selection processes for their narrow selfish ends.

We are confident that we will be able to correct our weaknesses, and when we have corrected our weaknesses we will regain the confidence of our people in these Metros and increase our electoral support everywhere in the country.

The ANC remains the people’s choice notwithstanding the bleeding and hurt caused by the losses in the Metros.

We are bleeding because even though we are democrats and revolutionaries and we accept the people’s verdict – we are not rocks. We have been affected by the losses we have suffered in these elections as human beings.

The 2016 Local Government Elections overall results confirm the ANC remains the people’s choice though with a reduced majority. Out of the 4392 wards in the country the ANC won 3435 amounting to 78,2% of the total wards.

As true democrats, we have accepted the outcomes of the local government elections as the will and voice of the people. Where we have lost we have not tried to win at all costs. We did not fight racist apartheid for ourselves but for our people. In this regard our strategic objective has always been to build a non-racial, non-sexist, united, prosperous and democratic society.

Let us underscore the point that it is because we do not seek to govern at all costs, including by selling our souls to the devil that we rejected and continue to reject a call for the ANC to forsake its founding principles and fundamental policies and embrace extremism, as a condition for governing the Metros. Had we been power mongers, we would have off-ramped from our path to nation building, national reconciliation, and social cohesion and service to the poor.

Notwithstanding the setbacks in these elections, the democratic project and democratization of our country is indeed on course. Even in our struggle for liberation we suffered serious setbacks – many of our comrades were exiled, imprisoned and murdered by the apartheid regime. These setbacks did not stop the ANC from moving forward to produce the 1994 democratic breakthrough. Even the current setbacks cannot deter us from reaching our strategic objectives.

We will be able to regain our losses in the national and provincial elections of 2019. We can say without any fear of contradiction that come the local government elections of 2021, we will definitely reclaim the governance of all the Metros and take them back from opposition parties who formed coalition governments.

We regret that we are perceived as being arrogant, self-serving and soft on corruption. We regret that the non-performing economy has made it difficult to overcome unemployment, poverty and inequality.

We further regret that some State Owned Enterprises have not been acting in the best interest of our people including the South African Airways, SABC and Eskom on renewable energy.

We want to say to our people that we will not burry our heads in the sand but we will jerk up our performance of government at all levels, with a full awareness that the satisfaction index of our people has gone down. We will continue to change the lives of our people for the better.

We will improve our communication of interventions we have made and continue to make in the lives of our people. We will rebut the negative narrative about our government by communicating what our government continues to do to create a better life for our people.

-This is an edited extract from an address delivered in the National Assembly Debate on the 2016 Local Government Elections







In my article titled Anti-Zuma, pro what? (The Weekly, 16 – 22 November 2012), I questioned whether those who were waging a bitter war against President Jacob Zuma knew what they wanted, as opposed to what they did not want. If these groupings are so anti-Zuma, who, or what, are they for, I asked.

In the above article, I made specific reference to an article by a UK-based independent researcher, Professor Martin Thomas, which is titled Anti-capitalism, pro-what? In the article Prof Thomas warned of the dangers associated with the “ambiguity” of the march by the British “Anti-Capitalist Initiative”, which was set up on the 28th April 2012.

“If the practical unity is only “where we agree”, then the model here is a loose coordination of different groupings”, Prof Thomas warned in his article. Fast forward to 2016, about four years later, an almost similar phenomenon has reappeared following the 2016 local government elections.

The 2016 elections were the most fiercely contested polls since the birth of freedom and democracy. As a consequence, the votes were divided amongst a number of political parties and associations. The country’s urban centres were the most fiercely contested and in areas like Rustenburg, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, there was no outright winner. The situation then called for coalitions.

On Monday, 22 August 2016, when the EFF councillors in the City of Johannesburg were busy voting for DA mayoral candidate, Herman Mashaba, hundreds of EFF supporters were protesting outside the city hall, where the inaugural council was sitting. “How can they sell our vote to the white Democratic Alliance”, said angry protestors.

These protests came at the back of the EFF’s decision to vote with the DA in the election of municipal office bearers like Speakers, Mayors and Council Whips. The protest seen at Johannesburg is a sign that the EFF leadership’s decision to vote with the DA was not canvassed with the more than 2.4 million people who voted for the party.

Well, EFF has a right to use its vote anyhow.

In fact, I was praying for ANC not to fall into a coalition with the EFF. But a deeper analysis of this sudden lovey-dovey relationship between the EFF and the DA triggers a number of questions; 1) how does the EFF stand to benefit from DA’s control of municipalities?; 2) Who stands to benefit from the DA’s control of municipalities?, and 3) Who does the EFF really represent?

In the history of democratic South Africa, no single political party has ever ‘donated’ its votes like the EFF has. In South African context, to get a single vote is not easy. That is why all political parties often enter into coalitions in return for their votes. So it is really hard to believe that the EFF just gave away its votes for free to DA.

What we know is that DA is unapologetically attached to white supremacy, and that it will do everything in its power to deepen and defend white minority interests.

It is also common knowledge that in November 2015, Julius Malema led a high-level EFF delegation visit to Britain where they met, amongst others, former UK ambassador to South Africa Lord Robin Renwick, who is linked to white monopoly capital through SABMiller, BhP Billiton, JP Morgan and may others.

But what we do not know is what transpired when the EFF met champions of white monopoly capital in Britain in 2015. We also do not know what was deliberated during the coalition talks between the EFF and DA, which led to this blanket support for the DA. With this lack of knowledge, we therefore cannot know what the EFF stands to benefit from the DA’s control of municipalities. Only time will tell.

The second question I posed earlier is much simpler than the first question. In my view the DA’s rule will not benefit the black majority. The DA is unapologetic about its negative stance towards Black Economic Empowerment, in particular. The millions of people who voted for the EFF with the expectation of economic freedom will see that objective deferred under DA rule.

The DA rule in my view will benefit white monopoly capital. Through the system of government tenders, amongst others, the DA will use the City of Johannesburg’s R55 billion budget to entrench the apartheid economic relations. The selection of councillors, who are mainly lily white and mostly male, in all municipalities controlled by the DA, is sign of what is to happen in the next five years.

It is really difficult to determine who the EFF really represent. Formed out of anger, the party meet the criteria of Prof Martin’s Anti-Capitalist Initiative” of a “loose coordination of different groupings”. Irrespective of what the party represent, it is important to record in the history books that EFF is one party that played a monumental role in the consolidation of white minority rule.







Recently, I was asked to talk to the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) on the topic of Engaging Men and Boys in the overall goals of eradicating HIV and AIDS, and the role that men can play in the struggle for gender equality.

Given that this is Women’s Month it is important to reflect on women’s agency in the struggle against patriarchy and the role that feminist men can play in that struggle.

South Africa recently hosted the International AIDS Conference, and HIV and AIDS provided us with a useful lens to look at the issue of intersectionalities and the women’s human rights agenda in general.

The intersection between gender inequality and the fact that young women bear the brunt of the HIV and AIDS epidemic is precisely why we have a men’s forum within SANAC.

Men through their activism in  all organizations, should play a role in changing the toxic masculinities that underpin violence against women and the inequities that have historically fueled the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

In supporting the work of the Men’s Forum and also other initiatives such as Men Engage, as women and women’s organizations, we must do so mindful of the fact this forms part of a broader struggle against the ideology of male supremacy (patriarchy) and, that it is critical all of society to engage in actions that fully realize a society wherein all people are equal.

In South Africa, we are lucky that we have a Constitution and legal framework that formally recognizes this equality.

Section 9(3) of the South African Constitution states unequivocally that the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, color, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

Section 8 (2) of the constitution binds the executive of the state to respect the Bill of Rights and it is expected that  South African citizens are also bound by the spirit and letter of the Bill of Rights.

It is clear though that these constitutional injunctions are still aspirational.

This year again, in the midst of Women’s month we read about a six-year-old boy who was murdered while trying to defend his mother from being raped.

Last year, during this same period there were media reports about a 70-year-old man arrested for raping his seven-year-old daughter, a report about a judge correctly giving a long-term jail sentence to a young man who sexually assaulted and murdered a young lesbian woman and also an article about the despair of a young woman who had acid thrown in her face by an intimate male partner.

In 2014 South African media was spellbound by the trial of a celebrity athlete who shot and killed his girlfriend.

These few cases highlighted in the media provide us with a brief insight into the nature of violence against women and the kinds of attitudes and actions that are intertwined with the nature of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in South Africa.

Women of all races and classes are victims of violence and the profile of perpetrators also cuts across race and class. The thing that the vast majority of women victims of violence have in common are that their attackers were not strangers but people that they know such as intimate partners, family members, friends and acquaintances.

The same applies to HIV and AIDS. Many women are unable to negotiate safe sex in their own homes with their intimate partners and are thereby exposed to HIV and AIDS.

The higher incidence of poverty amongst women also gives rise to higher levels of transactional sex and the so-called sugar daddy syndrome.  All of these are key risk factors for contracting HIV and AIDS for especially younger women. Poverty and ongoing stigmatization also make it difficult for women to access treatment and prevention programmes.

Poverty, inequality, drugs and alcohol abuse do not cause violence against women or increase their risks to HIV and AIDS.

These are aggravating factors  with the root causes being patriarchy.

The root causes of violence against women are therefore political.

The environment that places women at increased risk stems from and is nurtured by patriarchy, the ideology of male superiority that has rendered women second-class and subservient to males and male power in South Africa and across the globe.

Patriarchy creates a sense of entitlement amongst men. It makes men feel entitled to be the head of the household, the boss in the business world, and the head of a village, the president of political parties and presidents of countries.

Many men also feel entitled to sex and do not believe that women have the right to bodily integrity and autonomy and the right to choose whom to have sex with, when to have sex, to have sex, when to have children and how many children they wish to have.

It is this system of patriarchy that also excludes women from the economic mainstream rendering them dependent on patriarchal family structures dominated economically and socially by men.

Therefore, any strategy that seeks to eradicate HIV and AIDS and violence against women must deal with a patriarchal system that is hegemonic and propagated through the economic, social, political, cultural and religious institutions of this and other societies.

We need to fundamentally transform all of these systems and institutions to eradicating HIV and AIDS and eliminate violence against women.  This will also have the added benefit of creating new societies that is generally more equal, gentle and peaceful.

The undoing of the ideas, beliefs, values, norms and systems that give rise to and perpetuate violence against women and that place women at increased risk of HIV and AIDS requires the birthing of a new society, a society that we in South Africa have never experienced.

The oppression of women, sexual violence and other forms of violence against women was as bad if not worse under apartheid and colonial rule. In fact the old legal system undergirded the systems oppressing women.

Therefore, it is at best a folly for people to talk about ‘re-building society’, ‘reconstructing communities’, and ‘moral regeneration’, as if a journey to the past where the systems of patriarchy were sharper, and its apparatus for oppression more brutal will make the lives of women better and safer.

Despite the significant problems with violence against women in South Africa and other parts of the world the struggles for human rights and for women’s rights have made the lives of women better here and across the globe.

Human rights also provide the framework for ongoing struggles for justice, equality and peace.

So, if it is not folly for people to harken back to a mythical safer past, it is then a deliberate attempt by those who feel that they have lost some of their powers and privileges in rights based societies and seek to reclaim that power by blaming current levels of violence and social ills on the notion that ‘people have too many human rights’.

We hear this refrain against human rights by traditional leaders, religious leaders and others who seek to ‘rebuild’ stronger more robust patriarchal systems with the promise of a safer environment for women, as long as they know their place and do not demand their rights to equality and dignity.

Despite these gains our struggle must continue. A safer place for women, children and all of society is only possible if we strive to create a new society.

We need to birth a society with new and unprecedented values and belief systems that manifests and accepts the truism that all people are equal without distinction of any kind.

This acceptance will give rise to the implementation of the good laws and policies that we have in South Africa aimed at eliminating HIV and AIDS and violence against women.

These policies and laws are not only poorly implemented because of a lack of capacity, but also because the public officials including those in the health and social sectors tasked with its implementation, like the broader masses in South Africa, have not internalized and accepted that these policy instruments are vital for creating safer and more peaceful societies.

Our challenge, therefore is not legal reform, or only building a capable state but more fundamentally, it’s about building a new consciousness on substantive equality amongst all South Africans.

Building this new consciousness requires us to build strong organizations and movements.

We need strong women’s movements and robust civil society organizations to lead this political struggle for a new society that will be safer, and more equal for women.

This will also create a truly egalitarian society for all. As women, while we welcome the engagement and involvement of men, we cannot and should not delegate this struggle to men.

By doing we this we are actually being complicit with patriarchy as we are suggesting that our freedom and safety are ultimately up to the largesse and agency of men.

The active participation of men in eradicating HIV and AIDS must be seen as part of a broader campaign to engage society about the need to dismantle patriarchy and all its supporting institutions and ideas factories. We still see references to men as being the ‘protectors’ of women and children and the ‘providers’ for families.

This kind of messaging reinforces patriarchal gender roles and will not lead to a better society for women or add value to actions to eradicating HIV and AIDS.

Similarly, as we continue this and other campaigns and programmes to eliminate HIV and AIDS and violence against women, we should not give undue roles and privileges to traditional leaders, pastors, imams, rabbis or temple priests as organized religion, culture and tradition have been key progenitors of the belief systems that have made women second class citizens in all societies across the world over hundreds of years.

We engage them with a view to transforming them as we journey together to a new more equal society.

Complicity with such patriarchal institutions will indeed be folly on the side of those seeking to eradicate HIV and AIDS and violence against women.

So engaging men and the participation of men in the struggle and journey towards a new society requires men to work with women and women’s organizations for a society free from patriarchy, free from discrimination and violence based on gender, sex, race, class, religion, belief, sexual orientation and gendered identities or any other status.





As we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the gallant women’s march on the Union Buildings, and this being Women’s Month, we need to take a moment to reflect on what have been the achievements of women in general, and those in the armed forces in particular.

It must be admitted that the democratic dispensation has made more strides over the last two decades and two years. Areas that were once the preserve of men and which exhibited the “masculinity of men”, such as the armed forces, have seen significant strides in transformation.

In our liberation movement the African National Congress (ANC) and its armed wing uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) the armed forces have never been the exclusive preserve of men.

From the onset and since the launch of uMkhonto we Sizwe on December the 16th 1961, men and women served side by side.

This has however not been easy, given the patriarchal nature of our society. At the time, women not only served in the underground but also went steps further to be part and parcel of the menfolk who had taken up arms.

It should come as no surprise that women such as Cde. Major General (retired) Jackie Sedibe, Ruth Mompati, to mention but a few, were in the early formations of MK and also served and experienced the hardships of starting or being part of newly established military camps of uMkhonto we Sizwe in Tanzania in the early 1960s.

They cut their teeth under these extremely difficult conditions at Kongwa and still emerged to pursue the struggle in the many different theatres the leadership deployed them in – be it within the structures of MK and pursuing the armed struggle; in the underground within and outside of our country; pursuing mass mobilization and finally as part of international isolation of the regime.

In all of these four pillars of struggle, they acquitted themselves exceptionally well, and were also elected to positions of responsibility. This was escalated as the struggle intensified from the late 1970’s and through the roaring 80’s, with women once again acquitting themselves well and taking up various command positions.

At the time that the regime had its back against the wall and was forced to unban the liberation movement and release political prisoners, thus paving the way for negotiations and the democratic transition.

Women in our structures were integral to the negotiations which started, all the way through to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, CODESA, and also the multiparty talks which followed CODESA after it broke down. It was ultimately with the first democratic elections that the policy positions that were steeped in the Freedom Charter, the Women’s Charter and a number of progressive policies, became reflected in the interim constitution.

Key amongst these principles was equality before the law, meaning that men and women were now equal before the law, as there was also equality amongst the races enshrined and removal of the myriad of laws that were vestiges of apartheid.

The newly democratizing state had to ensure that all institutions of the state reflected the intent and spirit of the new dispensation. It was thus no exception that these principles were enshrined in the establishment of the new integrating armed forces, made up of MK, and later APLA as the liberation movement armies on the one side, and the so called statutory forces of the apartheid regime and the Bantustan created armies of the TBVC states.

This meant seven disparate entities were integrated into the newly formed South African National Defense Force, SANDF, each with its own identity, doctrine and posture.

The political leadership ensured that the SANDF became a single Defense force…cohesive and united in one mission- to defend the national sovereignty of the country and protect its territorial integrity.

Women have an equal responsibility and unlike the previous dispensation, women can and do serve in any and all positions they wish, including combat.

These principles were further entrenched in the first White Paper on Defense in 1996, and later in the Defense Review in 1998. Even the Defense Act (a 1957 relic of the past which had entrenched white domination and male domination) was overhauled to reflect the new democratic ethos. All these seminal Defense policy documents were adopted by parliament after extensive consultations throughout the length and breath of the country. The Defense Review 2015 went further to emphasize these.

Looking back to the women who marched in the Union Buildings sixty years ago and the successive generations who took their baton, much has been achieved. Twenty two years later, women hold their own and have risen through the ranks of the Defense establishment, occupying different roles and responsibilities, right from core functions of Defense such as aircraft pilots, artillery, combat navy, navigators, medical professionals (including specialists, medical practitioners, pharmacists, ancillary health), engineers, anti-aircraft, divers, mechanics, various technical musterings, commanders of various units, to mention but a few.

Women are also deployed in peace support operations across the continent where the SANDF is deployed; representing the Defense establishment as Defense attaches in various countries, and lastly, as senior officers, with no less than six women at the rank of Major Generals servicing side by side with their male counterparts.

They also serve in many other areas of responsibility in senior, middle management and the coalface proudly. The SANDF is therefore a home for all patriotic men and women, with every profession one can think of.

Some have over the years gone into retirement and are military veterans, not only of MK but also, having integrated in the SANDF, retire. For these we are creating opportunities for them in the context of the military veterans legislation, to ensure that they and their Dependents have access to a range of benefits spelt out in legislation, such as education access for the military veterans and dependents; health for the military veteran; facilitation of business opportunities; skills development; burial support as well as ensuring their honor and recognition as military veterans for the sacrifices they have made for the attainment of our freedom.

Some of these benefits we deliver directly from our military veterans’ department, but also in partnership and agreements with other organs of state.

More can and is being done, to ensure the continued affirmation of women, in particular those from the ranks of the liberation movement who cut their teeth in the trenches of the struggle, especially the armed struggle in the hardships of our military camps and in the underground structures. This applies to those who are in service of our country’s armed forces, but also those who’ve since demobilized or gone into retirement.

As we deepen our democracy, the women in the armed forces can be trusted to take the challenges of Defense in a democracy, and ensuring that there shall not be a reversal of the gains of our hard earned freedom!

I therefore call upon all our people to see the defense establishment as a hive of opportunity, especially for young people seeking career opportunities, the scope is wide.




We salute President Jacob Zuma for inviting women especially from the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) from across the country to be part of this year’s Women’s Day celebrations at the Union Buildings.

We used this historic occasion to draw strength from the women of 1956- who remained united and fought against the brutality of the apartheid regime.

We commit ourselves to continue with the struggle of the women of ‘56 but with more energy and vibrancy: characteristics of the ANCYL.

The young women of today must arm themselves with the capacity to respond to the challenges that face society today.

History has not imposed the same responsibility to the young women as was the case in 1950s, 60’s and 70s. There is no need to for the supreme sacrifice as it happened to the many young people whose lives were cut short.

The women of yesteryear brought us political freedom through the liberation first stage of the National Democratic Revolution.

Our task is a different one. It entails more than just attainment of what has been defined in classical terms as ‘bourgeoisie democracy’. It is a fundamental programme of transformation of society led by the motive forces – which are the classes and social strata that stand to benefit most from the process of change.

As the ANCYL we believe that we owe to the women of 1956 to continue with the constant mobilization of masses of our people to be the architects and masters of their own development and advancement.

This means that we need to utilize the democracy and political freedom that has been achieved to fight for equality: and the economic power and emancipation of women in particular.

One of the greatest achievements of our democratic dispensation was the creation of a more inclusive, representative local government system.

We salute all women who participated in the build up to the 2016 municipal elections, especially members of the ANCYL who mobilized communities to vote for the ANC.

Reports in the media and various research organizations point out that women constituted the highest number of voters.

ANC members and ordinary members of society who have expressed their concerns about the performance of the ANC know that local government is a fundamental tenet of participatory democracy, aimed at ensuring that our people at local levels enjoy freedom and democracy.

Perhaps the question that we need to ask is what is Freedom?

Freedom refers to a state of complete psycho social and economic emancipation, to live free of oppression and prejudice based on social status, race, gender and other considerations.

Freedom that coexists with under-development and deep poverty is not true freedom.

Freedom is indivisible—there can be no freedom for some and not for all.

In the Western Cape, Cape Town, Midvaal and various municipalities where the Democratic Alliance (DA) is governing, the party has ensured that the majority of people remain excluded from accessing economic opportunities brought about by this democratic government.

In ANC run municipalities, we have seen many communities that were previously neglected having access to electricity, water and other basic services.

Chapter 7 of the country’s Constitution has clearly positioned the sphere of local government to become an instrument for the transformation of society.

As the ANCYL we declared 2016 as the Year of the Youth.

That is why we were working towards ensuring that 40 % of councilors represent youth – as the population of this country is largely young.

This has been a non-negotiable. The future of the young people of this country is in their hands. It cannot be postponed.

We campaigned for the youth to be elected to be mayors and speakers into councils of metros, district and local municipalities.

Our view is that young people who come to leadership positions at an early age will become a real human resources investment for this country. It is becoming a global trend for young people to assume leadership positions in their countries. South Africa is a respected global player because we are always in line with global trends.

As we approach the inauguration of councils in various municipalities, as the ANCYL we undertake to ensure that all young women who have been deployed by the ANC as councilors undergo rigorous induction and skills development programmes to prepare them to execute the mandate of the ANC.

The transformation of society cannot be achieved without the empowerment of women.

Importantly, we want them to ensure that municipalities have socio economic development programmes that are aligned to gender mainstreaming.

As guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) the ANCYL will work towards ensuring that municipalities are supported in developing Integrated Development Plans and in driving local economic development – to ensure that the identified sectors create job opportunities for the women at local level.

The ANCYL will ensure that ANC-led municipalities put programmes of economic transformation at the top of their agendas. Such transformation must result in the empowerment of women.

We are confident that with young people at the helm of municipalities, such youth leaders will work for the creation of an environment conducive to learning and teaching, fighting crime and ensuring peace and stability.

They will work with all young people, to build a better future for themselves and the coming generations. They will motivate the youth to participate in skills development programs, thus enabling them to be the agents of change in their local municipalities.

We envision a future where every young person will be armed with a skill, a trade, a qualification and knowledge that they can apply instantly.

We envision a future in which the scope of possible professions, skills, trades, qualifications and knowledge areas for young people of this country will be expanded in line with global trends.

Gone are the days where young people are only told that they must look for jobs, as the only option to starting a working life.

We see a future where, as a result of being skilled, in a wide variety of fields, young people will become entrepreneurs of note, competing with the best in the world, and in line with global trends.

Our young councilors will mobilize communities for the participation in the structures of governance such as hospital boards, ward committees, development committees, clinic committees and many formal and informal governance structures, inside and outside municipal structures.

Our young councilors will pay regular visits to the places and homes of the less fortunate, the indigent, the poor, churches and schools so as to ensure that South Africa becomes the country that cares for its citizens. Such caring will be felt at the level of every ward when our young people become ANC councilors this year.

They will also participate in grassroots programmes to ensure access to quality services and the fight against serious diseases such HIV and AIDS, TB, diseases of lifestyles, cancer etc.

We want to unleash a new leadership of young people who will act as peer educators acting as agents of change and focusing on saving other young people from the AIDS pandemic and other social ills.

The Blesser and Blesses pandemic must come to an end as it has no place in our society, young women must choose education over blessers because it only education that will deliver them to a better life.

Young people and women in particular hold the key to the future but unfortunately, as they grow; they are increasingly exposed to reproductive health risks such as sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.

Limited access to economic opportunities and prevailing poverty has added to women’s vulnerability.

It is for these reasons as the ANCYL we want young women in leadership positions in various municipalities in order to usher in a new era.

We will ensure that women councilors are well versed with the provisions of the National Health Insurance.

Importantly, as we move forward, we are sharpening our campaigns aimed at promoting behavioral change amongst the youth.




The ANC’s commitment to gender equality and the advancement of women has changed the way South African women live.

In 1964 Chairman Mao delivered a seminal statement supporting the people of the Congo against U.S. Aggression. Daring them to struggle and daring them to win, the Chinese leader had this to say, “people of the world, unite and defeat the US aggressors and their running dogs. People of the world, be courageous and dare to fight, defy difficulties and advance wave upon wave. Then the whole world will belong to the people. Monsters of all kinds shall be destroyed.”

Thirty years later, on the 27 April 1994, the women of South Africa would become living proof of the immense advances they would achieve, wave upon wave, when united and the heroic struggle they had waged against oppression on the basis of class, gender and race would be realised.

The ANC government’s myriad of policies, programmes and campaigns to promote gender equality, bolstered by the Bill of Rights, have set out to destroy the monsters of an entrenched patriarchal normative society and deal with the very real challenges facing South African women.

Today, South Africa today stands tall as one of the leading countries on the continent and in the world in the advancement of women and gender equality. Under the ANC government more girls are in school and tertiary institutions than ever before, and more women are employed.

We have attained the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) of universal primary education and gender equality among others, and have overall eliminated gender disparity in primary school enrolments.

Our Constitution has made South Africa a country where young women, and young black women in particular- can Dare to Dream.

Thanks to the policies of the ANC, today more than ever the girl child can realize her dream of climbing the corporate ladder, starting a business, exploring intrepid new worlds and stretching beyond that had also been the sole preserve of men in a male dominated society.

As we prepare to go to the polls in municipal elections today– the ANC is only political party in South Africa that mandates 50/50 gender representation on our candidate lists. Once again celebrating and advancing the right for the legitimate voice of the women of South Africa to be heard.

It is thanks to the policies of the ANC that more women, and young women in particular, enjoy the very fundamental right of control of their own bodies and the right to make informed choices on their reproductive health.

Through one of the most comprehensive social welfare nets in the world introduced by the ANC government, millions of indigent women, many of them young women, continue to receive support to enable them to feed their families.

As we witness a resurgence of youth-led activism around the world, as epitomized by #RhodesMustFall to #FeesMustFall to even more recently, to #RespekTheDoek – young people, including young women, are taking charge of their destinies to build the society they envision.

The ANC’s Local Government Elections Manifesto 2016 is titled “Together Advancing People’s Power in every Community”. It calls upon South Africans in general to sustain our hard won freedoms by “being courageous, daring to fight and defying difficulties”.

This perhaps is an even greater struggle than the struggle for freedom and liberation itself. As we go to the polls in August, the ANC retains the utmost confidence that the young people of South Africa will choose to use their vote wisely, and not be swayed by grandstanding, empty promises and populist positions.

Advancing people’s power is a call for us to continue being instruments for change. The ANC remains the political home for South Africans committed to social justice, and the constitutional principles of equality and non-discrimination.


–this article first appeared in the August edition of Destiny Magazine



 In all corners of society, females are subjected to subordination, exploitation and oppression. Language, art, religion and other forms of modern socialisation of human beings are embedded with patriarchy within the make-up of their very DNA.

In what is described by many as a feminist classic, ‘The Second Sex, Women as Other’ Simone de Beauvoir explores the idea that man ‘is the Subject, he is the Absolute: she is the Other.’[i]

Through institutions of socialisation men have asserted themselves as subjects of history and women as the other only necessary to support the manly duties of supporting life of the off-springs.

Language in its current form reflects the power that men have historically held in society. It reflects this social power by treating words referring or describing women as an extension of words referring or describing men. For an example:

Male = Female

Man = Woman

Actor = Actress

Poet = Poetess

This trend transcends across individual languages. An example is the name “Nonceba”(my own name) is an extension of the male “Nceba” with the “No” being a prefix at the beginning which is a norm in the IsiXhosa language. Same goes for words such a “Titshala” to describe a male teacher and “titshala-kazi” to describe a female teacher.

This is but one example of how the world, in its current form is set up in such a way where the female is the second sex. The sex which comes after the absolute sex, which is man.

Beauvoir argues that “The whole of feminine history has been man-made. Just as in America there is no Negro problem, but rather a white problem; just as anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem, it is our problem; so the woman problem has always been a man problem”(ibid).

De Beauvoir draws parallels between women and other oppressed classes of society throughout the book. However, she always includes a significant warning: “unlike blacks in America, Jews in Europe, or any other oppressed minority group, woman is not a minority. Females constitute roughly half the human population at any given period in history” (ibid).

Another crucial difference: woman has never lived segregated from man, as Jews have been segregated from Christians and blacks from whites. Economically, woman belongs to a lower “caste”—a term de Beauvoir uses often to emphasize the institutionalized quality of female subordination. Despite her lower caste, woman has always lived alongside her “master”.

This is perhaps why patriarchy is so entrenched in the female mind, to the extent that it is not even identifiable and thus results in the oppressed oppressing themselves even further. Comments such as “women hate each other” have become every day slogans thrown around by men whenever a cat fight breaks out, and in most cases, the man is the central feature of such cat fights. Generations of women have for centuries dragged each other at the amusement of the man, hence the evolution of the Sisterhood movement over the years to counter this phenomenon.

Bell Hooks defines patriarchy as “a political system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule of the weak and to maintain that domination through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.”[ii]

There is a deep seated believe that men have a birth right to the female body as well as sexuality. The idea of ownership of the female body is played out in every day conversations. We encounter daily instructions from a capitalist and patriarchal society of what a good woman is and how she ought to act. If she dares to deviate from the prescriptions society places on her behaviour, we have all sorts of names for her.

Because we live in a capitalist, patriarchal society; the female body is for sale. The very system that socialise men and women alike that women are naturally the object of males which could be put on sale anytime of the day. Men in South Africa, and elsewhere in the world believe that they can buy the female body. I can buy her a few drinks in the club and thereafter have an unspoken, unquestionable right to take her home. This is not to argue that sexual relations are not transactional, however, more often than not, the transactional component is assumed as a result of having “invested” material/monetary value hence the prevalence and persistence of rape and rape culture in our society.

The female body is under constant scrutiny, from both male and female. There seems to be a universal unwritten code of conduct for the female. She must dress in a particular way, if she does not; she invites whatever violence patriarchy confronts her with. It is for this reason that when a woman is raped, the first question that is asked is “What was she wearing? What was she doing there? Because whatever she wears which deviates from what patriarchy tells us a good and respectable woman must wear means she has opened herself up to abuse.

The idea of being the second sex, ‘the subordinate other’ has become so naturalised that the main defenders of it, are women. Patriarchy, like slavery has created a defence force for male privilege whom are women themselves. The typical house nigger mentality is where the ‘good nigger’ is employed by the master to guard his privilege through the policing and further oppression of the slaves. History showed us how house niggers ended up being far more brutal than the masters themselves. This is informed by the dire need to prove to be worthy of approval and acceptance by the master.

In the face of daily slut shamming and cyber bullying, as women, we are at the forefront of our own destruction. The defined norm of womanhood (as defined by the oppressor) has become institutionalised and any deviation deserves to be confronted with violence, with corrective rape and gender violence being the leading and most prevalent examples of such violence.

It must however be put on record that women have (despite popular beliefs that they are the not-so-significant other) been in the forefront of the struggle for better living conditions of human world-over.

In our country, it was Queen Manthatisi who brave and led the Basotho Militia from the front upon the death of King Moshoehoe. The 1958 August 09 revolt is among the leadership provided by women to society in general. Through arts and culture; in politics and at work; in academic and science, various women did and are doing their best to provide much needed leadership to society.

The current rate of females graduating in sciences and commerce also undermines the century’s old notion that those were fields of study reserved for males.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa recognises equal rights but clearly a more focused, structural approach is needed if we’re going to unlearn our naturalised position of subordination as women and the naturalised position of domination as men. Gender quotas are not dealing with patriarchy and could in fact be argued to be further entrenching it in some quarters of society.

The introduction of Gender Studies through sociological studies in the school’s curriculum is an important step towards structurally putting in place measures to dismantle the ideas of domination vs subordination. Perhaps it is also time we consider legislation prohibiting sexism and treating it with the contempt it deserves.

For revolutionaries, the task is also to re-socialise society, to create in existing institutions the more equal environment for all sexes. If the existing ones are failing to live up to that revolutionary task of re-socialising society should inevitable be replaced with new ones.

We must learn that ‘The Second Sex’ does not exist. Women are not the subordinate other but rather the significant equal.

[i] De Beauvoir, S. (1949). ‘The Second Sex, Women as Other’

[ii] Hooks, B. (2004). Understanding Patriarchy’