'I have been labelled as negative and aggressive': Mbali Ntuli on the barriers women face in politics

30 September 2020 - 11:20
The DA's Mbali Ntuli says politics are is still incredibly patriarchal in many ways and a barrier for more young women to join.
The DA's Mbali Ntuli says politics are is still incredibly patriarchal in many ways and a barrier for more young women to join.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

“I have been labelled as negative, aggressive and wanting to go against my party.”

These are the words of the DA's Mbali Ntuli, who is in a race for the leadership of the party,  on the barriers women face in politics in SA.

Ntuli appeared on The Resistance Bureau panel discussion about patriarchy in Africa this week where she explained that the patriarchal barriers in politics are “bullets” that women take before getting to where they want to be.

“Politics is still incredibly patriarchal in many ways and I certainly think it's a barrier for more young women to come in,” she said.

Ntuli said the party system often excludes women, especially social activists.

“In SA, we have a high number of female representatives but they really come through a party system that has got a lot of political jousting. Women who are social activists, who want to be in parliament, really have no access to that unless they are willing to play the party-political game,” Ntuli added.

Ntuli is running against DA interim leader John Steenhuisen for the position of party leader.

She is set to kick-start her virtual town hall tour, under the hashtag #KindStrongFair, on Wednesday, ahead of the DA's virtual federal congress on October 31 and November 1.

The discussion will start in Gauteng, where Ntuli will speak to delegates about her campaign offering and vision for the party and SA.

Earlier this month, Ntuli called for a change in the DA's management style and vowed to change the party's disciplinary body, the federal legal commission (FLC), if elected.

She said it was not race issues that were destroying the DA but old-fashion power grabs by individuals within the party.

“This phenomenon is what is destroying the DA. Not race, not ideology, not young vs old, but plain, old-fashioned power grabs led often by individuals who seem to believe ruling by fear is the only way to instil discipline and be unchallenged,” she said.

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika last week, Ntuli also vowed to change the mindset within the party that sees dissenting voices as “ill-discipline”. Instead she wants to bring in a “culture where people can debate and have free rein in the party”.

“We are only stronger when we have more ideas. There are plenty of people in our party who have so much to contribute, but can't do so because they don't think they have the mechanism,” said Ntuli.


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