The first campus branch of the ANC Women’s League is to openat Wits University. The initiative has been in the pipeline since 2008, and with a task committee in place, is ready to launch next month.
“The aim of the league (ANCWL) is to encourage more women to join the ANC, by giving them an organization that speaks to them,” says Itumeleng Mafatshe, vice-chairperson of the SRC and convener of the newly formed ANCWL.
“During apartheid women had it tough, they could be part of the ANC but could never lead. This shows their commitment to the struggle – they wanted to exist in a space where they weren’t welcome or appreciated.”
The ANCWL was founded in 1931 as the Bantu Women’s League, with Charlotte Maxeke as its first president. It was integrated into the ANC in 1943, when women were first admitted as members of the ANC. It was active in organising protests such as the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the passbook protests of August 9 1956.
Mafatshe says the focus of the Wits ANC Women’s League would be to develop young women.
“We want to strengthen the women’s voice within the ANC, as we feel there is not enough room within the existing structures for development, and the programmers’ don’t always speak to our specific requirements.
“We all know that we live in a patriarchal society and we believe women need to organize themselves. In the past men would organize for women in the ANC, who would then participate by doing domestic tasks. But in the 1940s women started saying they could contribute more. Our ANCWL would make sure there would be seasoned women leadership on campus.”
Mafatshe says the women’s league will continue to be inspired by anti-apartheid activists such as Albertina Sisulu.
“We takecognisanceof the role comrade Sisulu played in the organization and a lot of the principles she lived by are principles we abide by. She withstood the odds of patriarchy – those are the types of things we need to learn from her.”
Students who are members of the national ANC may join the Wits ANCWL.
Youngsters are losing faith in South African politics, the Youth Trax research has revealed.
The study, carried out by the Youth Dynamix (YDx) reaserch group, revealed that 64% of youngsters between 16 and 29 years old believe politics is not important.
Among the same age group, it was also found that 89% think the South African government has failed to keep its promises.
Boitumelo Mhlongo, a 2nd year BA student, said she is “not into South African politics” and wouldn’t vote in Wednesday’s municipal elections because “it’s stupid” and “they do nothing for no one”.
“They always make promises and nothing ever gets done. All you see is pretty people saying things to you and then you vote. That is money in their pockets and you are left hungry, poor and with no water for a whole month,” she said.
She added that it doesn’t matter which party is in power because “none of these people have done anything”.
The study measured attitudes towards politics and the government, and 1800 respondents between 13 and 29 years old were polled.
Nqobizitha Ngulube, a 1st year BA law student, said: “Now it’s all about revenge [in South African politics], not about the development of the country.”
High levels of unemployment was one of the main reasons for the “loss of hope” in the country, according to the research.
The Quarterly Labour Force Survey, a study published at the beginning of the month by Statistics South Africa, showed that “among those who were unemployed [between January and March 2011], approximately 1.9-million were new entrants into the labour market, which is 43,4% of the unemployed”.
Compared to a year ago, “the number of [unemployed] new entrants increased by 81000”. This number of people could almost fill FNB Stadium (Soccer City).
Dropping education standards and escalating crime were other reasons mentioned by youngsters in the YDx study.
The research also revealed that 40% of young people between 16 and 29 years old intend leaving the country, although they claimed to be “proudly South African”.
First year civil engineering student Muhammad Chothia said he is “definitely proud of being South African”.
“I intend to work overseas but come back and settle down here”. He said he is part of the youngsters who still have faith in the government.