Sonke Gender Justice deeply disappointed by cabinet reshuffle which shows disregard for women’s rights in South Africa

Sonke is deeply disappointed by the cabinet reshuffle. On the evening of 26 February 2018, South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa undermined our confidence.

“Placing former Social Development Minister and ANC Women’s League President, Bathabile Dlamini in the position of Women’s Minister, only further reveals the ANC’s disdain for women’s rights in this country,” says Nonhlana Skosana, Community Education and Mobilisation Manager, Sonke Gender Justice.

In her time as head of social development, Dlamini has shown contempt for the law, the South African constitution and for parliament. Most disgraceful, she has shown complete disregard for the millions of women who rely on social grants every month to ensure their families’ survival.

Under the stewardship of Susan Shabangu, the Women’s Ministry has been compromised and ineffectual. For too long, the hopelessly underfunded Women’s Ministry has been a mouthpiece for the patriarchal power of the leaders of the ANC. Now, with Dlamini at its helm, the Women’s Ministry will continue to be a lame duck.

According to Dean Peacock, Co-Executive Director, Sonke Gender Justice, “The appointment represents party over country. It’s a grave mistake. Cyril Ramaphosa just undermined our confidence, particularly with regards to his commitment to addressing violence against women.”

Our confidence was already on shaky ground. The then Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba’s budget speech of 21 February announced an increase in value-added tax (VAT) from 14% to 15% – effectively increasing inequity in a country already riven with deep inequalities.

Those who had protested for free education would receive it – first year students from households earning under R350,000 per year at universities and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges would not pay fees – but it would be the very families who couldn’t afford education who would foot the bill. Instead of raising corporate tax, he has taken food from the mouths of the poor and under-resourced – those who already suffer human rights violations through lack of service delivery, water and sanitation.

Ramaphosa has promised to eradicate corruption. And yet former Finance Minister and Gupta acolyte, Gigaba will remain in cabinet, reverting to his former role of Minister of Home Affairs. This comes after the High Court found he had lied under oath in evidence relating to the opening of a private immigration terminal at OR Tambo airport. In addition, it was during his tenure as home affairs minister, that leaked emails revealed that Gigaba had assisted the Gupta family with naturalisation applications.

If the President were truly serious about driving his reform agenda and eliminating corruption, Bathabile Dlamini would be gone – along with Malusi Gigaba.