Below is an interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Mzoxolo Mpolase had with Ms Meokgo Matuba, Secretary General of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) relating to the ANCWL’s response to Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshegka, using the Women’s League banner to support Cyril Ramaphosa in his ANC campaign.
Interviewer: I wanted your comment with regards to what the ANC Women’s League in KwaZulu-Natal said in a press conference today, regarding the Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, who apparently is still continuing to use the ANCWL banner to support Ramaphosa. And of course, you issued a statement on the 26th of August, condemning this. I wanted to get your reaction; does it seem that the statement worked, or did not work?
Meokgo Matuba: I did not see the KZN press conference, I would not be able to respond on their issues, but I will be able to respond to other issues.
I guess that was a public rebuke of Angie Motshekga, has there been any commitment from her part that she will no longer use the banner, or what will happen if some of these claims are proven to be true or not true?
What we have continued to observe as the Women’s League, is that you will know that in the campaign, others will campaign for their preferred candidate and then they will be told to have to coordinate the women for their campaign, and others will be told to coordinate young people, youth, in their campaign. What they will then do, because they do not have information; they are not active members of the Women’s League; they are not in leadership positions, is go and mobilise everybody who is out there, buy a blouse for her to say that “you will be going to Umembeso or blouse-wearing ceremony of the Women’s League”. They are continuing to do that to make society confused, thinking that those who are wearing those blouses, or those who are attending those activities, are members of the Women’s League. So, we are not worried – we are on the ground; we are working with the women’s structures on the ground, and we know which areas have active membership or members in good-standing, in all provinces. Now, they are just coordinating their campaign, outside of the structures of the Women’s League, pushing a narrative that the Women’s League is divided knowing that they are just providing blouses for these females and convincing them to go to the ANC BGM. Majority of them, I can tell you, they do not even have our membership, the ANC Women’s League membership, and if you do not have the ANC Women’s League membership and are wearing an ANC Women’s League blouse, it appears that they are continuing to push their own narrative. As the Women’s League, we know where we stand, we know where comrades are, we know members who are in good-standing, and who are also participating in the structures of the ANC Women’s League.
I assume that Angie Motshekga is still an ANC Women’s League member, maybe not in leadership, but a member. So, is the ANC Women’s League saying that members who are of good-standing cannot organise other members unless they have structural permission or support?
In the Women’s League, when you address an event or activity, or deal with a programme, of the Women’s League, you are doing that as a member who is in a leadership position – you cannot be organising as branch member, organising the next branch; there are women in the branch. And you cannot be organising a member in Gauteng, Johannesburg, and think you will go and address the Women’s League in the North West – It is not right. It is not done that way. You can be invited in your capacity as a Minister, but not as a leader of the Women’s League – there are leaders who are legitimate, who have been elected in 2015, who are leading the Women’s League now. And if you want to attend; if they invite you, it is with another capacity, not as a leader of the Women’s League.
Was the ANC Women’s League not, by coming out so soon, and so early, pronouncing around Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, creating this problem for itself in the sense that you have the Lindiwe Sisulus, Baleka Mbetes, you have Angie Motshegka, as you said, with her Cyril Ramaphosa link – would there not be an internal democratic process, and also if that internal democratic process pronounced Nkosazana Dlamini –Zuma, why is it so forbidden for other members to have another preference while still being ANC Women’s League members?
In 2015, when we were elected, part of our resolutions was that we must have a woman president – a woman who is going to be the President of the ANC. That was our resolution at the Conference. And if you can remember very well, you are a political analyst; you go through all the documents and so on and so forth, you follow us – our discussions, our debates, our statements. Part of this thing that Mme. Angie said even before then, during the Conference; she is one of the people who stood up and said “women are not ready”, and we, as branches of the Women’s League by then; we took a decision to say that “women are ready”, and therefore we want to see, after 105 years, a President who is a woman, in the ANC – that was our view. Now for us to do that pronouncement; we did not wake up in the morning, and say “that is the woman that we want to support” – we went through the processes of the ANC, we checked through the eye of the needle, we check the current challenges that are faced in the ANC, we check capacity and capabilities of our leadership; we then conclude to put six women, to say that we want these six women; one of them was Lindiwe Sisulu – the preferred name was of Comrade Nkosazana. We did that through an extended NEC meeting, where you have the Chairperson and the Secretaries of regions in the country, Chairpersons and Secretaries of Provinces in the country, and NEC members of the ANC Women’s League. We will not de-campaign any woman who wants to stand for a particular position, including this one; we would not want to de-campaign, but we do have a candidate as the Women’s League, and we will not de-campaign others; it shows that we are maturing, we are ready; more women are coming out, and therefore we would want to be persuaded, and we will talk to branches of the ANC, as we are doing now, towards the nomination process to say that “after 105 years, we think Comrade Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma can be able to unite the African National Congress, can be able to move the African National Congress forward, and we believe that now is the time for women to take critical positions”. We never had a Secretary General in the ANC since its formations, we never had a President, we never had a Deputy President, who is a woman, in the structures of the ANC. But now, we want to be given an opportunity to take the ANC forward.
The statement that you released – reading it, it seemed very personal to Angie Motshekga in the sense that you say that she must give the ANC Women’s League and the duly elected leadership space to lead.
It is not personal. It is organisational processes and procedures – after every Conference, we elect leadership. Mrs Angie was a leader, for plus eight years, in the Women’s League; we afforded her an opportunity to lead for those many years – we have never interfered with her work. And after that Conference; we were contesting, actually, in Mangaung 2008. After the Mangaung Conference, we rallied behind her leadership as a collective that was elected by then; we never had programmes, we never had parallel programmes, we respected the structure until the end and now, it is new leadership; we are not personal – it is a new leadership. And when you elect leaders in the ANC, you deem them an opportunity to lead. Where you see they are failing – as a member of the Women’s League, you raise this issue your structure, to say “you are not following organisational processes on 1, 2, 3 and 4”, and you advise. And as a former President of the Women’s League, we do not have anything against here. We continued to invite her to our activities; it is not personal – we are just requesting her, nicely so, to give us a space to lead. If we fail, we fail; if we succeed, we succeed, and the Conference will definitely assess our work as members. And the can also do that as members of the ANC; if they have issues, they talk to us. If she is invited through the structures of the Women’s League, we will not have a problem with her attending activities; but we will have a problem if she is organising under the banner of the Women’s league – that is what we has a problem with.
The reason we are talking about it in the media, and in the political analysis space, is that it was done via press release. Would you say that was the best route to go about it; maybe something that would have been behind closed doors given that you have access to her and those people who may be organising outside of the structures of the ANC Women’s League? Why the approach of a press release?
I was trying to get a hold of her, I could not reach her but through a press release I know that I would be able to reach her, and get her so that she can explain her behaviour to the Women’s League. But, she will not do that, as a person that I know, she will continue. It is Conference mode; everybody is in that mode of the Conference. For me, it is as if her actions are to create parallel structures; but if she can recruit those women to be members of the Women’s League, not only blousing them, then really, we do have a bigger problem of mobilising women and rallying them behind the policies of the organisation; we do have that bigger responsibility, rather than to going to fight sis. Angie.