It was not surprising that former minister and ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) leader Bathabile Dlamini was subjected to scorn and abuse when she turned up at yesterday’s #SandtonShutdown protest against gender-based violence.
The protesters – a coalition of 70 civil society groups – were marking the rape and murder of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana.
They made it clear that they believed Dlamini and her ANCWL comrades were trying to hijack the event and turn it into an ANC one.
Dlamini was taunted with the name Kwezi, once used for a woman who accused ex-president Jacob Zuma of rape. Dlamini has long been a defender of Zuma, and the league supported him during his rape trial.
There has also been the broader realisation – and its attendant anger – among women that the ANC government has done very little to stem the tsunami of violence against women, despite its frequent fine sermons on the issue.
That realisation – that women are going to have to drive societal change (and urge, or force, men along with them) – is similar to other civic movements which see solutions outside traditional government structures.
And that is an exciting development for democracy in this country.