With as many names and name changes as Diddy, The Women’s Ministry is equally much ado about nothing. Assuming that the average South African has no idea what the ministry is/does (that’s if they even care), where does one begin to find out what it is?
Moved by the recent scandal that involved Hlaudi Motsoeneng being offered a “wife as a gift”, the Live VIP team began to wonder what the Women’s Ministry would have to say about the entire affair. We then became curious as to whether or not such an issue even falls within their area of concern. This ultimately brought us to our final question: what on earth is the Women’s Ministry?
When announcing his new and extremely bloated cabinet on 25 May 2014, President Jacob Zuma announced Susan Shabangu as the new Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women’s development. Huh? At the time the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) was still in existence and the website for that particular department still does. All this had me slightly confused. It also left me wondering why an entirely separate department for any issues facing the women of South Africa wasn’t created.
President Zuma probably explained all this during his speech but I was clearly engaged in something more enthralling. Come to think of it, as a young woman who is fairly interested in politics and lives in South Africa, I really should have been listening. Should have, would have, could have. Knowing better does not mean that you will do better and politicians honestly make it so hard for us to pay attention. Anyway, I digress…
During that announcement, Zuma basically mandated Shabangu’s ministry with fighting for the achievement of women’s socio-economic empowerment and women’s rights. Simple enough right?
According to their website, the DWCPD has (not had) the mandate to promote, facilitate, co-ordinate and monitor the realisation of the rights of women, children and people with disabilities. But, all these societal groups had been thrown into one department as if they do not each face unique struggles. Add to that all these names, mandates and websites floating around that made it seem as though they function as separate entities and you have one lost young South African woman.
I actually contacted the ministry (the office of Susan Shabangu) and the Department with all my questions on Wednesday, June 25th and received an official statement a few days after that.
In summary: Zuma felt that the “reconfiguration of some departments was a necessity”. As such, he announced that “the functions related to support for people with disabilities and children, will be transferred to the Department of Social Development. The current Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disability is now the Ministry of Women which will be located in the Presidency.” So women’s affairs did actually get its own stand-alone department and the needs of children and people with disabilities were dumped on some other department to deal with.
It was the DWCPD however that launched an investigation into the claims made about the Hlaudi Motsoeneng saga. In “official” statement-speak, Head of Communications at the DWCPD Kenosi Machepa said “the use of women as gifts as if they were livestock is a serious regress and an insult to the gains of 20 years of democracy [gosh, that phrase again] and freedom, particularly the contribution of women.” She went on to add “as the department responsible for championing the rights of women, we cannot sit back and allow women to be treated like secondary citizens with no acclaim to human rights.” All the while, I’m sitting at my desk thinking “didn’t they just tell me that the DWCPD is no more?” The ministry and the DWCPD actually have two different people occupying the Head of Communication post. If they are now one entity, why is that? Why haven’t they merged their contact details yet and sorted out the issue of duplicate posts?
The two entities that apparently operated separately in the hopes of achieving the same goal are in fact one and the same. It is the Department of Women separated from that of children and people with disabilities. The Women’s Ministry is the DWCPD’s new name. The only kicker is, the two haven’t become one yet.
Do you think that they too (children and people with disabilities) should have their own departments or should the championing of their rights be left to the Department of Social Development? Soundoff on our twitter @VIPVoice2014
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