Welcome to South Africa, where the politicians spend equal amounts of time verbally bashing each other and frittering away our tax-money, while reluctantly giving up a meager percentage of their time to attend to the business of governing.
In the news at the moment is gender equality; an important and relevant issue for all women and well-adjusted men, but simply another tool to bash each other with, in the hands of politicians.
The formation of the new Ministry for Women, Children, Youth and People with Disabilities has raised the ire of gender groups such as Gender Links and People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA), but has raised the curiosity of the official Opposition Party in Parliament, the Democratic Alliance (DA). While the gender activists are wondering if this is a good development for women’s rights, the DA are wondering how best to use it against the ruling ANC government.
And in a move that has fanned the flames of heated debate, Helen Zille leader of the DA which won the Provincial election in the Western Cape, has announced a Provincial Government Executive composed of entirely males. While this has women’s rights groups up in arms, the ruling ANC government and its chihuahua-on-a-leash, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) have used it to score political points against Helen Zille and the DA. To make things more interesting, both Helen Zille and the ANCYL have indulged in a bitter verbal war, trading insults which promises to provide much writing fodder for the press. To further complicate issues, the former military wing of the ANC’s, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Military Veterans Association has joined the fray and threatened to “launch a political programme aimed at rendering the Western Cape ungovernable.” What exactly this entails, I don’t know, but a bunch of decrepit pensioners invading the Provincial Assembly to play bingo, springs readily to mind.
If we ignore all the distractions of the politicians and their lap-dogs, and rationally examine the allegations of gender disparity in Helen Zille’s Provincial cabinet, one has to ask if serving the interests of gender equality (and by extension, gender activists), is more important than serving the interests of the public and province, as these are public office positions. If Helen Zille has picked the people best suited to serve their constituency, and they so happen to be all male, then we should have no qualms. However, if she has picked a man where an available women candidate could perform equally well or better, then the gender groups have every right to demand that the man be replaced.