Response to Redi Direko’s Column in the Sowetan
Nyiko Floyd Shivambu
I normally do not respond to petty attacks directed at me, because I was advised that if I kneel down and bark back to a dog barking at me, passers-by will not notice the difference. Yet I felt the need to respond to Redi Direko on her insulting column about the essence of gender struggles and what she misperceives as sexism from the ANC YL. Redi Direko, like all South Africans has the right to formulate and articulate whatever opinion she deems suitable, but this should be within context. Under apartheid, racism, sexism and exploitation were institutionalised realities and African women suffered what the National Liberation Movement characterised as triple oppression, because they were African women whose labour was exploited for capitalist gains. This was further intensified through preventing females from performing certain functions at leadership level.
The ANC led National Liberation Movement’s strategic objective is underpinned by the need to resolve the gender contradictions and female exclusion, which was the foundation of apartheid oppression and exploitation. Our gender struggles are therefore located within the broader programme to economically and socially emancipate the black majority and Africans in particular. In the current dispensation, this should include representation of women in decision making structures, not as tokens, but as an appreciation that women are equally capable to perform the duties they were prevented from doing in the past. The ANC YL’s political and ideological guidance is underpinned by these principles. This explains our dedicated focus on women inclusion in all our decision making structures and our impatience with anyone who regressively undermines the principle of female’s inclusivity.
The ANC YL actually gets enraged by anyone who embodies apartheid value systems of racism and sexism, hence our vitriolic description of Helen Zille and her regressive political outlook. We will always react with vitriol against anything that mirrors apartheid value systems, including against black people who are submissive adherents of racist and regressive notions in the development of society. Many people, including women sacrificed their lives to achieve the kind of South Africa we have today, hence we will strongly castigate anyone who regresses to the past.
During the Talk 702 radio interview, Redi Direko failed in her lame attempt to make me say that Zille is having sex with her men only executive council, and typical of her angry self labelled me mindless. I refused to say that because we are aware that it plays into a wrong perception parroted by reactionary feminists, who blindly defend females in leadership position, even the most regressive of female leaders like Helen Zille. Not even once did Direko acknowledge that what Zille said about the Republic’s President is devious and undermining to Africans cultural practices and traditions, she instead emphasised that Zille was just irrelevant in the failed attempt to justify the racist and sexist decision she took on the cabinet of the Western Cape. That is sad.
The ANC YL has never been sexist and will always fight against any value and manifestation that represents sexism. Sexism is not part of our DNA. We are instead defined by the concerted efforts to achieve total gender equity within the context of social and economic emancipation. We will however give Redi Direko the benefit of the doubt and blame her ranting on ignorance and less knowledge about the ideological and political beliefs and practices of the ANC YL. Like all black young women, we wish Redi Direko well and hope that she will mature and grow in her profession to pay sufficient attention to details to avoid tantrums and ranting which thus far define her media roles as a radio presenter and Columnist.
Nyiko Floyd Shivambu—ANC YL National Spokesperson