Mrs Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities
Private Bag X931
Dear Minister Nkoana-Mashabane
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS: YOU ARE LEAVING THE WOMEN OF THIS COUNTRY WITH THE IMPRESSION THAT YOU SIMPLY DO NOT CARE ABOUT THEM
The time for annual talk shops, when it is Women’s Month in August, and in December, for Sixteen Days of Activism, is over. The same applies to the drawing of rosy pictures by the provincial representatives as was seen at the recent Women’s Parliament held on 28 August 2020. The United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) has heard enough lip-service as women’s lives are ruined and lost, daily, and you appear to be nothing more than a minister that is there for window dressing.
We want action and we want to see you taking that action. Gender-based violence (GBV) is real and claiming far too many women and children’s lives and we are left with the impression that you are not taking this matter very seriously.
UDEMWO was totally flabbergasted at the fact that you chose to join this year’s Women’s Parliament virtually. What has happened to the Batho Pele principle that says: “Citizens should be treated with courtesy and consideration.” Seemingly, Minister, you have forgotten about this principle.
This event happens only once a year and you could have taken the time from your “busy schedule” to show respect due to the women of South Africa and in particular to the victims of GBV.
We understand that Covid-19 has meant that we must navigate uncharted waters, but travelling is possible now and your presence in the house would have made a difference. Worse still, you left the virtual platform just after your presentation, leaving many women hanging with several unanswered questions. This brings a new level to disrespect and is a total disregard of the Batho Pele principles.
If President Cyril Ramaphosa attends Parliament for a mere question and answer session in person, as he recently did, what excuse could you have for not attending Women’s Parliament?
Your department’s, and therefore your, mission is: “To provide strategic leadership, coordination and oversight to government departments and the country in mainstreaming empowerment programmes on women, youth and persons with disabilities”.
Yet this seems to be a few words strung together with no personal or professional meaning to you. What are you in reality doing to fight the scourge of GBV; i.e. not riding on the coattails of the President and the Minister of Police? Simply delivering a Women’s Month speech, issuing a press release here and there, and attending press briefings cannot be the scope, and entire product, of your work.
Minister, seemingly you do not have a solution for GBV, besides the so-called Thuthuzela Care Centres, which we do not even see in our communities, that only try to assist after the crime of rape has been committed. UDEMWO calls you to establish a mass programme that focusses on self-defence for women, so that they can fight for themselves when they are pushed into a tight corner by the opposite gender. Women die with protection orders in their hands and such a self defence programme could help to flatten the GBV curve. We are tired of being victims, it is time for us to be able to defend ourselves.
The need of South African women is great, and the time for action is now, please help!
Ms Thandi Nontenja
UDEMWO Secretary General