'We've messed up,' says former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

21 October 2021 - 21:22
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka delivers an address on October 21 in Johannesburg, where the ANC hosted a talk with young female party supporters ahead of the local government election.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka delivers an address on October 21 in Johannesburg, where the ANC hosted a talk with young female party supporters ahead of the local government election.
Image: Alaister Russell

Former deputy president Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka has called on those elected in the upcoming local government elections to lead with humility.

“We want to see service delivery and we want to see care. Ubuntu. We want leadership with ubuntu. They may not be in a position to solve all the problems but they can be in a position to show that they care,” she said on Thursday.

The former executive director of United Nations Women was engaging young women at the ANC’s Ruth First House in Saxonwold as part of the party’s election campaign.

Addressing the audience under the banner of “Towards Generation Equality: Celebrating the life and times of mama Albertina Sisulu”, Mlambo-Ngcuka said in isiZulu: “I salute mama Sisulu and Charlotte Maxeke for the contribution that they have made... but we cannot mess up their contribution.”

She said the pandemic has shone the spotlight on the country’s problems.

“We have no water for hygiene but there was money for water. We have no proper housing for a large number of our people, we have no clinics within reasonable reach for a number of our people and the money of the poor is being stolen by people who feel they are being owed by society,” she said.

In a message directed to people ahead of the local government elections, she said: “We need to make sure that they know that we expect nothing less than a clean government and a clean government has to start in your municipality.”

She said it was the citizen’s responsibility to ensure that those who are elected are held responsible because “if society does not do this, then our team has lost”.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said leaders cannot continue to rely on deploying people into positions based on their struggle credentials.

“Struggle credentials cannot run a municipality. Comrades have come to run the municipality.

“No municipality must have people who count money when they cannot count their fingers. We are here to support, empower and to make sure that they succeed because if they don’t succeed, we are in hell.”

While women have played an outstanding role, she said: “Women have also messed up. Following agendas that have nothing to do with them. You have to choose your issues. Patriarchy cannot dominate the women’s league agenda. You have to challenge patriarchy, it does not matter who it comes from and you need to lift as you climb and make sure that other women are where they are supposed to be.”

She challenged the women, draped in black, green and gold, to emulate Sisulu and Maxeke and “occupy (the) space”.

“Today, we are in this space where we really have to reflect about our history and where we are going to go and move forward from here. We are in a pandemic, we are hopefully going to get over it, but it has been hard.”

She said the pandemic “has been particularly (disproportionally) hard on the poor and women. Women lost two-thirds of the jobs that were lost in the pandemic because they work in the service sector, hospitality and the informal sector ...

“So the (economic) recovery, is a recovery for women. We have to make sure that the beneficiaries of this recovery are women. Women also experienced higher levels of violence. Women and girls who did not have the gadgets and the capacity to navigate in the digital space were locked out of what was happening around them.”

Young women of today are the best hope for creating a society that will cope with the 21st century, where technology dominates. “We need you to come forward and occupy that space.”

ANCYL convener Nonceba Mhlauli said the upcoming elections “are (going to be) the most difficult elections that the ANC has faced ... because of the state of local government in SA.”

Mhauli said the youth was not “interested in people’s struggle credentials when it comes to deployment.

“The time for struggle credentials when it comes to deployment is over. We want skills and capacity at the forefront.It  cannot be that just because you are a branch chairperson you must become a speaker of a municipality and ultimately become the mayor. You must become the mayor because you have demonstrated the ability to lead that particular council.”

ANC’s Khusela Diko added that “women must take the helm of institutions which influence spheres of society”.

Diko said the ANC has seen an increase in the number of women candidates participating in the local government elections. “These women, young and old, will continue to take forward the struggle of women calling for equality, gender mainstreaming and a seat at the table wherever decisions affecting them and society are taken.”

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