Ramaphosa sets up national council on GBV - but DA slams another 'talk shop'

27 August 2020 - 19:54 By Thabo Mokone
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday rubbished claims from the DA that a new national council on GBV and femicide would be merely a 'talk shop'.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday rubbished claims from the DA that a new national council on GBV and femicide would be merely a 'talk shop'.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has resolved to set up a new national council to tackle the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide.

But the DA has dismissed it as nothing but yet another "talk shop".

Ramaphosa made the announcement on Thursday as he responded to questions from MPs in the National Assembly. He said this was part of the implementation of a national strategic plan on gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), which began at the beginning of May this year after it was adopted by the cabinet.

The president said the council would consist of 13 members, with a small majority of them drawn from the NGO sector.

The council, in the main, would coordinate and monitor government plans to fight gender-based violence and femicide.

"While the emergency response plan sought to address these and other immediate issues, the national strategic plan guides the broader changes that we must achieve in the medium- to long-term. This will be led by the gender-based violence and femicide national council," said Ramaphosa.

"After extensive consultation, it has been decided that the national council will consist of a board with various technical working units.

"In line with article 4 of the Presidential Summit Declaration, the GBVF Council will consist of a maximum of 13 members, 51% of which will be civil society representatives and 49% government representatives.

"The national council will be inclusive of all South Africans, including women from urban and rural areas, and different cultural, racial and class backgrounds. The members will be appointed through a transparent process of public nomination and selection.

"As a country, we remain determined to uproot the scourge of violence against our daughters, our mothers, our sisters, our grandmothers and our children."

But interim DA leader John Steenhuisen was not impressed, saying Ramaphosa was all talk but no action.

"On the matter of GBV, as with all matters of accountability in your government, you go from Mr Talk-A-Lot to Dr Do-Little. You've made endless commitments to ending this. You've again spoken today about talk shops and funds, but these are not followed up by actions," he said.

"What concrete action are you going to take, Mr President, to reduce the backlog in the DNA testing that's keeping  perpetrators of GBV out of jail?" asked Steenhuisen.

In his own defence, Ramaphosa said these were exactly the same issues that would enjoy priority from the new council.

"The national council is going to be an effective council that is going to ensure that all the matters you talk about are attended. And that council is not going to be a talk shop ... they are going to be having hawks' eyes on every [action] government needs to implement," he said.

"The national council we're putting in place should never be seen as a talk shop. It will be a sign of disrespect to those women who are going to work in that council to be told that they are just a talk shop. They are not a talk shop - they are activists."