The Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, Minister Bathabile Dlamini, has noted the media statement by #TheTotalShutDown titled “Continued Over-Politicisation of Gender Based Violence issues by Government.”
In the statement, the group raises three allegations as ‘concerns’, namely: “blurred lines between Party and State,” “political posturing,” and “covert electioneering.” The statement further alleges that the Minister “made no mention of the government’s plans for the forthcoming National Gender Summit” on 1 and 2 November 2018.
In response to these allegations, the Minister wishes to firstly refute the latter allegation, by quoting from her response to a question by a representative of #TheTotalShutdown at the said media briefing. The Minister said that “on the total shutdown and other women’s organisations: we support fully. We are saying that women should be allowed to have a single platform of action in their heterogeneity. And that’s it. We are looking forward to it [the Summit].” The Minister further stated that “we need to ensure that the outcomes of the Summit result in action that will lead to all women of South Africa feeling safe.” This suggests that the #TotalShutDown has either issued a prepared statement, or did not listen to the Minister, despite the attendance of their representatives. This was not the first time that the Minister has garnered public support towards the Summit.
The Minister wishes to remind the nation that the media briefing was attended in her capacity as the Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women. The Minister, on behalf of government, was supported by members of civil society, the faith-based sector, the private sector, academics, feminist activists. The briefing was attended by the media and other members of society, including activists from #TheTotalShutdown.
The Minister lends her support and concurrence with the statement that “we are in a state of national crisis when it comes to gender based violence and that requires coherent messaging from the Government and all stakeholders.”
The Minister urges all women of South Africa to learn from history, particularly the Federation for South African Women (FEDSAW), the UDF Women’s Congress, and the Women’s National Coalition (WNC). These formations changed the course of women’s movement activism in the history of South Africa. Their main strategy was uniting against patriarchy, despite their contrasting subjective positions across class, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and geography.
For their success, these formations refused to be the mouthpiece of patriarchy. No women’s movement that attacks women instead of patriarchy will succeed in ending Gender-Based Violence.
Male senior members of the ANC and other political formations in government have never been accused by #TheTotalShutdown of political posturing or covert electioneering. However, whenever women rise in strength, it becomes as Mama Winnie Mandela once noted, which is that men dominate women through the agency of women themselves.”
It is tragic to witness women attacking other women in the guise of women’s emancipation. On 1 August, the group was hostile to, and refused to engage with other members of South African politics and governance. Now they are attacking the Women’s Ministry to fight personal agendas. We salute women that are committed to women’s emancipation, who are not driven by the urge for the destruction of the Women’s Ministry.
Despite the antagonism of #TheTotalShutdown, the Minister wishes to state that she will be attending the Summit, and will participate fully.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.