The upcoming municipal elections should serve as an opportunity to advance greater representation of women on lists, according to the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC).
This call came after the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) briefed the Committee this week on issues pertaining to local government elections, ‘as well as on the functionality of the MPWC in municipalities.’ Structures for MPWC’s are reportedly in place in most metropolitan municipalities in provinces,’ however they are still not functioning in some areas of Gauteng, the Northern Cape and Western Cape.
Although the South African Constitution does not provide for quotas to ensure adequate representation of women in elected public bodies, ‘nor are there any legal quotas established for national or provincial elections,’ the ANC is the only political party in South Africa that has 50/50 representation in its policy frameworks.
The African Democracy Encyclopaedia Project notes that ‘the rising levels of women’s representation in local government is largely attributable to the ANC’s committment to a minimal 30% quote for representation of women at all levels since 1994.’
Since the dawning of democracy, the ANC has committed to attaining gender parity at local, provincial and national government level. This has resulted in the levels of female representation in local government steadily climbing from 19% after the 1994 elections to 40% by 2006 – a figure that is only increasing year on year. However, much more still needs to be done.
The MPWC notes that of the 4 810 proportional representation seats in the country, a total of 2 184 were filled by women, as opposed to 2 626 men. And of the total number of 4 277 ward councillors, 1 413 are women compared to 2 864 men.
The MPWC has encouraged all female politicians to actively lobby within their respective parties, especially considering that the lists have not been submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) yet. “We must make sure political parties take it seriously,” Committee Chairperson Masefele Morutoa said.