PRINCESS PHUMZILE BUTHELEZI, MPL
IFPWB NATIONAL CHAIRPERSON
The IFP Gauteng PEC
NEC and National Council Members
Delegates to this Conference
I am delighted to be here today with you My Sisters at your Elective Provincial Conference. This conference is an important part of the efforts we are making as a Party to build strong structures ahead of the crucial 2021 Local Government Elections. We are here today because we are committed to getting our ducks in row for the future.
Therefore, at the outset let me impress on you that elective conferences should breed unity and oneness and common purpose. At this conference we must elect with minds and not our hearts; because we here not to support our friends but to elect those who can do the job. We need leaders at this time who are equal to the tasks of the work at hand.
Importantly let us work towards a united Women’s Brigade in this beautiful province.
Why is Unity important?
It is important to be united if we are to fight Gender Based Violence. It is important to be united if we are to win the battle for “Equal Pay for Equal Work” It is important to be united if we are to succeed against Patriarchy.
It is important to be united if we want a strong IFP to improve the lives of the South African People we serve.
Unity is the alpha and omega of our common purpose.
A united Women’s Brigade can move mountains.
The IFP is strong when the Women’s Brigade is strong, functional and effective.
My Sisters and Comrades, Gauteng is our second biggest province and therefore our efforts in this province are central to the continued growth of the IFP. We need to venture into new spaces as we mobilize South Africa into participating in the struggle for socio-economic justice and women emancipation.
When you liberate women, you liberate the world and humanity. We must make sure young girls access education. Young women must get into higher education. Women must get jobs. And yes, we demand “equal pay for equal work”.
In this regard, we have charged our Parliamentary Caucus to begin a process towards the introduction of a Private Members Bill to enforce “equal pay for equal work”.
The inequality and discrimination of women in the work space exists as one of the gravest violations of human rights in our lifetime. Our freedom and democracy can ill afford to leave women behind. The struggle for socio-economic justice must be the new normal for women and South Africa.
We must speak out against bedroom interviews, and our labor laws must protect women against such practices. The sexual demands imposed on women are a travesty of justice and an erosion of humanity, common decency and Ubuntu. These inhumane practices must be punishable by law.
My Sisters and Comrades, South Africa is in trouble. The economy is on its knees, service delivery is slow, corruption has taken over good governance and the rule of law has been replaced by the rule of political expedience.
We are witnessing collapses in education, healthcare and social services. Water management is collapsing. Food security is under threat.
Our government has lost the plot.
In all this mess, women are hit hardest.
We women must always therefore remember that we are in this mess together, and the suffering of one is the suffering of all of us. We are a “Family of Women” which must always support each other and encourage each other to exploit fully our best talents. And also always be honest with each other when we do not do that which is right or when we do not act individually or collectively in the best interests of women.
Therefore, the IFP Women’s Brigade must rise up and wage the struggle for a new government that will restore good governance and service delivery. A government that will put women first. A government that will root out corruption. A government that will respect the People and the Constitution. A government that will manage the economy better. A government that will create jobs.
That government is the IFP.
We must therefore be ready for 2021 and 2024 today. This conference must position us for the road ahead, where we will take the IFP to the People.
The role of the IFP Women’s Brigade in the broader South African society is of crucial importance.
We must champion the fundamental and timeless values of self-help and self- reliance where IFP Women’s Brigade branches become centres of innovation and community outreach. Where we help in small ways to achieve big things. Women must be trained in business to create jobs. Our branches must be like NGO’s; always there to help others, feed the hungry and direct women towards independence and opportunity.
As mothers, sisters and daughters we need to be at the forefront of addressing the root causes of violence in our society – that is the moral decay and lawlessness that has besieged our nation.
We are concerned by the general lack of respect for institutions. A general lack of respect for elders and law enforcement authorities. We need to reinstate a culture of respect. We must lead a campaign of moral revival and regeneration.
We must reject lawlessness and patriarchy wherever it may manifest. In our homes, in our communities.
As the IFP Women’s Brigade, we need to take a stand daily and speak up in defence of women and children. We must speak up when men don’t pay maintenance. We must speak up when a woman is being verbally abused, harassed and assaulted.
If we don’t teach our sons today to respect our daughters, they grow up not respecting their girlfriends, wives and women work colleagues. Men must understand women to be equals and not threats or enemies.
We, the IFP Women’s Brigade, need to be the vanguards in restoring discipline at schools and in the home. School bullying is rife.
Achieving true and meaningful gender equality is of utmost importance to the IFP. We know that women still bear the brutal brunt of poverty, remaining on the fringes of the economy. Women still earn less than men for doing the exact same job. Women face war on our streets, at home and in the workplace. Ours is one of the most dangerous countries for women and children to live in. This must change.
It is painful to hear the statistics of rape, murder, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm perpetrated against women in South Africa.
The greatest misconception among victims of abuse and violence is that they are alone. This sense of isolation is exploited, and indeed often created, by the abuser, to ensure that their victim never seeks help.
It is in silence and in secret that abuse festers. Yet we are activists and people of goodwill. We are champions of justice and dignity.
We must therefore launch a massive campaign in defence and on behalf of the most vulnerable, in our communities, in our municipalities, in the legislatures where we serve and in the National Parliament.
Today and every day we must call on Government to expedite a national, costed plan, to fight gender-based violence, as the current legal framework does not support and protect women.
Today and every day we must call on Government to recognise that it has lost the war against crime in our country and that its strategy to fight gender-based violence must be overhauled.
Today and every day we must call on big business and Government to support NGOs who fight on behalf of women and children, in particular those who run shelters for abused women and children.
Today and every day we must express our concern with the minuscule budget that is allocated to the Department of Women in the Presidency, which does not speak to a Government that is committed to the emancipation of women and children.
Today and every day we must remind all IFP mayors to continue to fulfil the Party’s mandate to roll-out free sanitary pads to all school girls in need.
Today and every day we must continue to call for the introduction of a gender equality module in the school curriculum.
Today and everyday we must spearhead a back-to-basics campaign based on the principle of Ubuntu/Botho, thereby re-instilling African values in our modern democracy.
It remains our steadfast position that each IFP branch must establish a Men’s Forum to encourage men to deal with any emotional struggles and concerns.
We remain resolute in that IFP municipalities establish nerve centres to deal with social ills in their areas, while offering awareness campaigns against violence as well as counselling for victims and perpetrators.
We must reaffirm today and every day that the IFP must play a leading role in nurturing and supporting the girl child, while combatting patriarchy wherever it may manifest.
My Sisters and Comrades, until these things are done and achieved, then today and everyday these calls and convictions remain our agenda.
This agenda needs a united IFP Women’s Brigade.