The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL), which stirred controversy by naming Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as their preferred candidate to take over from President Jacob Zuma, on Tuesday called for half of the top positions in the party to be filled by women.
Dlamini-Zuma is the outgoing chairperson of the African Union Commission. She will be replaced later this month.
Brushing aside criticism from ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe for prematurely announcing their preferred candidate, the ANCWL said that it was simply following party policy.
Mantashe had earlier described the pronouncements of candidates as “ill-discipline”.
“The ANCWL did not deviate in anyway [sic] from the longstanding mandate from its members and supporters to pursuit [sic] the call for the election of the ANC’s first female president and having minimum 50% representation in the top 6 of the ANC,” said the league in a statement issued by secretary-general Meokgo Matuba.
In September last year, the National Union of Mineworkers announced it had officially endorsed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over the reins of the ANC from Zuma.
More recently, the Congress of SA Trade Unions also said it was backing Ramaphosa to lead the ANC.
Mantashe revealed that as many as eight names had been put forward as possible candidates, but the ANC position was that no one had as yet been nominated to succeed Zuma.
At the weekend, Zuma called for some sort of criteria to be drawn up before leaders could be nominated.
But the ANCWL was on Tuesday adamant that the time had come for fair representation.
“In its 105 years of existence ,the ANC has never had a female president and 50% representation in the top 6 of the ANC,” said the ANCWL.
“That glass ceiling will be broken by having a female president giving closing remarks in the 54th ANC National Conference in December 2017 and other female cadres being in the top 6 of the organisation.”
The ANCWL said the call “for the first female president and having 50% representation in ANC top 6 has gained relevance and necessary significance; therefore, pronouncing on the preferred candidates to be lobbied cannot be in anyway [sic] interpreted as a form of ill-discipline”.
The league said it would not be dissuaded from calling for the ANC to elect its first woman to lead it.
“The success of ANCWL in realising the goal of having the first ANC female president will be a success of women structures across the globe and motivation for them to continue with an agenda of having the world that is not patriarchal.”