ANC to stick to gender premier split - but what about Cyril’s men?
Analysts predicted a 50/50 split but the ANC ended up appointing seven male premiers
Political analysts predicted on Monday that the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) would not be able to avoid appointing a 50/50 gender premier split in eight of the provinces it will govern.
But in a late night announcement on Monday, the ANC's NEC said five of the seven candidates agreed upon would be men.
However, in an effort to ensure gender parity, the NEC instructed that all speakers of provincial legislatures be females.
“There was a consensus that in instances where the premier is a female there shall be at least 50:50 representation in the provincial executive,” said party secretary-general Ace Magashule.
The NEC on Monday held its first post-2019 election NEC at Irene, just outside Pretoria.
Experts polled on Monday said they expected the ANC to adhere to its policies of a 50/50 ratio when they appoint premiers. The party won eight of the nine provinces, and after this week’s NEC meeting will announce its premier candidates.
Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana said the ANC had always advocated for gender equality.
“My biggest concern is the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, as these were the two of the main provinces that ensured Cyril Ramaphosa ascend to power,” Ndletyana said.
The party’s top structure met on Monday and Tuesday to discuss a range of other issues, including its performance in the latest polls and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet. The ANC meeting comes after the part won just 57.51% of the polls. The ANC’s provincial leadership in all the provinces except the Western Cape have nominated three premier candidates to the NEC.
Ndletyana, however, cautioned that should Eastern Cape ANC chairperson Oscar Mabuyane not be appointed premier, it might cause tension within the provincial ANC.
“He worked very hard for Cyril’s victory. So this decision might come across as unfair,” Ndletyana said.
The NEC confirmed on Monday night that Mabuyane would be premier of the Eastern Cape.
The Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga will all see continuity as outgoing premiers have been nominated to serve once again.
The ANC in KZN in the run-up to the Nasrec elective conference were supporting Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC president. Dlamini-Zuma was seen at the time more as a proxy to Zuma.
“Appointing a woman and snubbing the current ANC chairman, Sihle Zikala, could deepen the rift between Zuma and Ramaphosa supporters,” Ndletyana said ahead of the announcement.
His words were prophetic. Indeed, Monday evening, it was announced that Zikalala had been nominated to be premier.
Sisi Ntombela, who is also deputy president of the ANC Women’s League, will be the premier of the Free State, while the only other female premier is from Mpumalanga, Refilwe Mtsweni.
Gauteng would see provincial ANC chairperson David Makhura continue as premier after the ANC won a majority by a single seat.
It’s the same for ANC Limpopo chairperson Stanley Matabatha, who will also continue as premier.
Stellenbosch University political science professor Amanda Gouws had hoped the ANC would stick to its election promise of proper gender representation.
“It will be great news if the ANC sticks to this commitment, as this was vacated during the presidency of Jacob Zuma. I hope this doesn’t end with premiers. President Ramaphosa must also have the same 50/50 ratio in his cabinet,” Gouws said. - additional reporting by Qaanitah Hunter
*This article was updated on Tuesday morning with the late night announcement of the new premiers.