Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality executive mayor Thabo Manyoni has admitted that Africa has not done enough to empower women in local governance despite increased efforts to improve women’s participation across all sectors.
Speaking on SABC’s Morning Live during the TNA Business Breakfast broadcast live from Sandton Convention Centre on Wednesday, Manyoni said the continent was still caught up in the olden practice which restricted women to domestic chores and not allowing them to excel professionally.
“We’ve not done as much as we should have to address women’s issues and that challenge is not being faced by South Africa alone but the African continent in general,” Manyoni said.
Manyoni, who is also the national chairperson of South African Local Government Association (SALGA) said the discussion around women in local governance was an important one hence the South African government has spoken openly against it. He pointed out that the issue was very important and could not be swept under the carpet anymore.
Manyoni said South Africa’s pace in addressing women issues was not satisfactory and more urgent action was needed.
“We’re moving slowly and that’s a fact that cannot be denied, not by me or anyone for that matter. However, it is equally important to acknowledge strides made on the very same issue that is in question,” said Manyoni.
The SALGA boss was however quick to point out that it was not entirely correct to say that the country was not doing much to promote women because it takes time for people to rise professionally.
He emphasised that for Africa to achieve the best results, it should not take short cuts in order to get the job done but promote women on merit.
“Women empowerment is not an event but a process. This process must be respected not pressurised,” said Manyoni, adding that this was an imperative concept that needed to be understood. He pointed out that applying undue pressure for the sake of getting results could result in many unnecessary mistakes being made.
“Empowerment means appointing the right people into the right positions and not only because they are women. It’s important that we get the right people in the positions they deserve which is exactly what is happening at the moment,” added Manyoni.
He however said the appointment of Namibia’s fourth Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who took office in March, was a step in the right direction for women’s empowerment.
He said the move is an indication that women with knowledge, capacity, ability, determination and willingness to bring about change in their respective country can be afforded the opportunity to do so.
“Though we’re not preoccupied with people’s opinion its astonishing that very little praise is given where strides are made to address the issue and yet so much noise is made whenever there are shortcomings,” said Manyoni.
He said government would not only talking about the matter but it will actively address the under-representation and low participation of women in political decision-making.
According the Manyoni, there will be engagements with all political parties represented in government to implement the 50/50 representation in all municipalities across the country while also trying to confront the structural and cultural barriers that impede women’s access to decision-making and leadership positions.