The NEC Members of SALGA present
The Chairperson of SALGA in the GP, Hon Jongizizwe Dlabathi
The SWC Commissioners and the MPWCs
Executive Mayors, Speakers, and Cllrs on the online platform
Our Colleagues from the United Nations Women
Hon Mayor Maria Helena LANGA of the Network of Locally Elected Leaders in Africa (REFELA), connected online.
Our Colleague from Sweden online Hon Anne Scheffer Leander-
Distinguished Guests and our partners
The SALGA officials led by the CEO, Mr Sithole Mbanga
Municipal officials connected online
Ladies and Gentlemen
Program director, it gives me great pleasure to be part of this wonderful gathering of women. Let me send profound apologies on behalf of the Minister of COGTA, Mme Nkadimeng, who had committed to be with us but due to urgent matters to attend to, she could not come. The MinMEC she could not reschedule must now respond to the Western Cape disaster. We send our support to the Mayors whose towns have been cut off by the destruction of roads and bridges, the business and farmers whose livelihoods have been negatively affected, we send our prayers to the injured and those that perished. Leaders, Climate change is real and as local government and women, we face the dire consequences. We need to climate proof our infrastructure as in the coming days, more disasters are coming.
We also wish to extend apologies on behalf of Hon Deputy Minister Sisisi Tolashe, who could not join us due to an urgent program in the Eastern Cape, related to GBVF.
We are available as leaders to lead, and thus I address this lekgotla and master class series.
Commissioners, Cllrs, and honored guests, COVID 19 outbreak in Gauteng is peaking and we call on all delegates to exercise precaution, the last thing we need is having cases after this lekgotla.
To start off the topic on gender transformation in LG, I will start with:
INTERNATIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENTS COMMITTING SA TO GENDER EQUALITY
The commitment to achieving gender equality can be traced to the 1948 UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights which states that rights and freedoms will not be limited by a person's gender and establishes that 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights'.
South Africa is a signatory of the 2008 SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which commits member states to put in place measures to bring about 50% representation for women in decision-making positions by 2015.
The UN Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/15 calls on governments, political parties, trade unions, and professional and other representative groups to adopt a 30 percent minimum proportion of women in leadership positions, with a view to achieving equal representation
As the clock ticks down to 2030, the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), African countries are still far from achieving women's “equal and effective” participation in political decision-making.
Prominent among UN frameworks and instruments, is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also described as the 'international bill of rights for women'.
These started giving targets from 30% women representations to governments with the aim of achieving 50%. The pace is very slow both in the continent and globally.
OUR CONSTITUTIONAL FOUNDING VALLUES
This exemplary legislation emphases the rights of all South Africans to equality, free of any form of discrimination, including gender discrimination, and gender equality.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION
The Local Government: Municipal Structures Act (#33, 2000 as amended) section 11 (3) is also an important piece of legislation as it mandates the representation of women in local government and specifies a 50% target for women’s representation in party candidate lists.
This provision goes further by specifying that women candidates in party lists should be evenly distributed across these lists, undoubtedly, to avoid such candidates being placed at the bottom of party candidate lists where their prospects for successful election would be greatly diminished. However, it should be noted that this provision is confined solely to the Proportional Representation category of local councilors and does not extend to the Ward Councilor category.
Progressive policies and frameworks also exist in municipalities to address gender representation and gender discrimination.
On gender parity from 1995 to 2021, the following trends were observed:
In 1995, women’s representation stood at 19%. This increased to 29% in 2000 and 40% in 2006. In these three elections there was, a 10% increase of women representation from 1995 to 2000, and 11% increase of women from 2000-2006. This was a promising start for gender transformation and affirmation of women as leaders.
However, compared to 2006, this has since dropped to 37% in the current term.
There are two factors that have led to this drop. The first one is the PR representation. While there has been an increase in PR representation from 43% in 2011 to 46% in 2021, it appears that this has reached a glass ceiling. Parties try just to comply with others not even complying. There is no voluntary motivation to do better. Women Me
The second factor is the ward representation that has dropped 33% in 2011 to 27% in the 2021 local government elections. Communities and parties seem to have taken advantage of the lack of regulatory requirement in this regard to express the true patriarchal nature of our society.
What is perplexing though is that women are the majority participants in elections. In the last election, women constituted 55% of the registered voters and made up 58% of the proportion of voters who voted.
In the LG administration, the most senior position, the Municipal Manager, there is a slow increase in the number of women occupying these positions and are at 33%.
Municipalities have over time opted to balance gender in the administration in the middle management, leaving top management male dominated. Between 2011 and 2016, an effort was visible in many municipalities to employ female Senior Managers, but again that started dropping towards 2021, and seems to carry through in the current term.
Some reports have emerged that indicate that municipalities are struggling to get women applicants for senior management positions. This leads to municipalities left to choose male managers.
The question we need to ask ourselves is why are competent female administrators not applying for positions in LG? Can it be that municipal environment have become hostile to women. Indeed, we have witnessed increased intimidation, high jacking and even killing of senior managers of municipalities. Under such circumstances, very few women will take the risk. How do we address this? Is the tenderization of local government service delivery not the root cause? Have we been intentional and deliberate in our efforts to attend to this challenge?
Local government cannot claim to be representative if women are underrepresented in councils and in the administration, and if their needs are not adequately met.
There is also a moral imperative for local government to promote the alleviation of poverty and ensure a safety net for the most vulnerable. In most rural communities and elsewhere in the country, the majority of the poor are women.
Is it not time we introduce a mandatory quota to achieve the equal distribution of women and men in local government? We need legislation that makes 50% representation of women mandatory for all political parties, as we now depend on political will and a few political parties have demonstrated that will in their policies and manifestos.
5. Implementation of the Gender Policy Framework for Local Government.
In recognition of women’s under-representation and participation in local governance in South Africa and in engendering local development planning and service delivery, some initiatives were taken. The former Department of Provincial and Local Governance (DPLG) launched its Gender Policy Framework for Local Government ‘to provide guidance and support to the sector around gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment’ (DPLG 2007, foreword). This introduced gender machinery, establishment in municipalities, introducing women’s the caucus, the women’s forum, and gender focal points administratively.
However, research reveals that within municipalities, despite the creation of this elaborate gender machinery and provision of guidelines for mainstreaming gender within IDPs, these are largely not followed, and gender remains a ‘side issue’.
SALGA has established its gender machinery from 2010, with the SWC, that started off as a component of the Community Development working group. In 2016, the SWC became a governance structure. The success of the SWC programs rely on the successful establishment and functionality of MPWCs as section 79 committees. The progress to date reflects that gender issues are not taken seriously in most municipalities. While these structures are formed in nearly 70% of municipalities, most of them are hamstrung by lack of resources and administrative support capacity. The implications of this is lack of oversight on the progress of the municipalities in gender mainstreaming and accountability thereof, limiting the SWC in accounting to the National Parliament, Commission for Gender Equality, continental and global bodies on our progress as LG on gender equality and gender inclusion in municipal delivery.
We call upon TROIKAs and MMs of all municipalities to support their municipalities in the establishment and support with resources of Multi-Party Women Commissions. We are currently engaging with COGTA to formalize the MPWC as S79 committee, like MPAC. The journey to an equal society requires all of us to be intentional and committed, at all levels.
May we have fruitful discussions.