AFRICA: Push back Frontiers of Sexism, Women Urged

Monday, September 17, 2012
the Swazi Observer
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

VISITING newly elected Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has called upon women here to push back the frontiers of sexism by strengthening their participation in decision making in their countries and in the continent.

Speaking during the celebration of African Women in Leadership luncheon held in her honour at the S&B Restaurant yesterday afternoon, Dlamini-Zuma said the AU has declared 2010 to 2020 as women's decade and it was up to the women in the continent to define and decide what kind of changes they want in Africa.

She said currently the AU was driven by governments, but it has always been advocated for that the citizens should be the ones who take charge of the organisation. She said it was up to them to make tomorrow better for the benefit of future generations. “I spent about five years in the country working as a doctor at the Mbabane government hospital and two of my children, including Gugu whom I brought with me here were born in the country,” she said. “The Beijing Platform of action and the MDGs (Millennium development goals) point out that putting women in decision making is very central to their emancipation. “Having them in decision making would mean that the agenda of the country is clearly determined as they would also have a say in the national budget. Issues such as maternal and child mortality as well as poverty would be greatly decreased. “We should try to create space for women in the world as they will always be bearers of children. Men are the biggest spreaders of HIV as they go around infecting more women that how women would to men.” Dlamini-Zuma noted that without women it was hard to guarantee the survival of children or if they would reach their fullest potential in this world. She said there should be equal opportunities to education for all as a lot of women in Africa worked on land, but do not own it.

“A nation that cannot feed itself has no hope of developing and a lot of dollars are lost to African states as they import food. We are also lucky to have 30% of the world's mineral reserves in Africa, but it baffles one that in South Africa, for instance, there is only woman who holds a mining license. It is also important how we raise our children because that is how they tend to be when grown up,” she added. Dlamini-Zuma also gave thumbs up to the Anglican Church for appointing the first lady bishop in the country.

SD wants to form African Women Peace Foundation

THE country, as ‘Africa's peace capital', has proposed the establishment of an African Women Peace Foundation that will be recognised by all structures of the AU with chapters in each country in the continent.

This was disclosed by Dr Thandiwe Dlamini, who said as women in the country they have thought very hard and long over this foundation and were certain it would succeed with the support and guidance of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who was recently elected Chairperson of the AU Commission. She urged the AU Commission chairperson to discuss the importance of advancing peaceful means through dialogue.

Dlamini said as Swazi women, they were available for her to make use of them anytime to raise issues that affect women. This will be integrated into the AU agenda and that with advanced technology they were just a twitter, SMS or BBM away. “We all know the issues and challenges that affect women in Africa, but as women we need to look at ourselves and the treatment of each other. After 44 years of independence Swaziland has made great strides with women getting ahead in some of the male dominated positions in the country. “Africa is plagued by turmoil from natural and man-made disasters, hunger, drought, excessive rain, political instability, unemployment and many more, and women and children are the first to be affected.

“They are victims of conflict situations – collateral damage – death, displacement, rapes and many more horrors and the turmoil in our countries forces them to live like immigrants in their own countries,” she remarked. Dlamini added that women need to be empowered and involved in campaigns to unite the continent and in conflict resolution. She said there should be special programmes to empower women as they were not happy to always remain deputies to men.

Dlamini-Zuma warns against border disputes in Africa

DR Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has warned African countries, particularly Swaziland, to avoid starting new conflicts in a bid to correct the mistakes made by the colonial masters in the creation of borders between the states. The outgoing South African home minister - who is soon to relocate to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to take up her new post as African Union (AU) Commission chairperson - emphasised that it was up to those countries affected to resolve border disputes through negotiations.

Dlamini-Zuma, who was speaking at the Matsapha international airport upon arrival yesterday morning, said the various countries' founders, including those of Swaziland, have deliberated at length on the issue of border restorations amongst their countries and there was need for them to resolve the issue once and for all. “The various founders of the countries at one point decided to keep the borders as they are and at this point in time there is great need to discuss the issue and reach an amicable solution.

It is obvious that some of the countries are not content about the current arrangements of the borders, but it is very important that these countries become cautious and not start new conflicts in a bid to correct the border ills that were created by colonialism,” she said. Swaziland is currently engaged in negotiations with South Africa pertaining to the borders that separates the two countries and to take care of this the country established a Border Restoration Committee.

Bennett presents cow

FORMER senator and businessman Walter Bennett donated a cow as a gift to the outgoing South African Minister of home Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in appreciation of her visit to the country.

The present was announced by master of ceremonies (MC) Minister Lindiwe Dlamini during the celebration of African Women in Leadership luncheon in honour of Dr Dlamini-Zuma at the S&B Restaurant.

As Dlamini-Zuma was pampered with gifts on the day, she was also presented with a locally made souvenir blanket by former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Khoza's wife, Poppy .

{{AU chair assures SD, region of aid

AU aid will be forthcoming for all countries in the region and it is only upon each state such as Swaziland to stand up and reveal what kind of help they need individually.

The AU Commission chairperson, speaking at the Matsapha international airport, said there were various commissioners within the Commission that include those of political affairs, economic affairs and agricultural affairs, to mention but a few, who were ready to assist those countries that need help.

Dlamini-Zuma said she would make sure that all countries in the continent were equal in the eyes of the Commission. “It will definitely depend on what Swaziland needs and then the Commission will decide which commissioner can best assist where needed.

“It will be important that I work with all the regions and not necessarily SADC (Southern African Development Community) as during the elections it was through a secret ballot that I was elected and I take it that all the countries contributed to my election,” she remarked.

{{Poppy Khoza the brains behind visit

POPPY Khoza, the late former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Khoza's wife, was the brains behind Dr Dlamini-Zuma's visit.
Regional Excellence and Development Initiative (REDI) Consulting, Training and Expert Advice Director Dr Sikhomba Gumbi disclosed that Khoza dreamt about Dlamini-Zuma's visit and thereafter shared the idea to REDI.

He said Khoza approached the organisation wondering if such a visit by the esteemed African Union Commission chairperson was just a dream or it would be possible, and as REDI they assured her that they would make it happen. Gumbi further thanked other women who were equally involved in organising the visit and luncheon, such as Ethel Nhleko whom he described as having been the ‘hotline' in liaising with REDI and the office of Dlamini-Zuma; Dorris Makhanya from Expetype and Thembayena Dlamini.

He praised Dlamini-Zuma for proving to be a good leader to everyone by agreeing to honour the invitation by REDI to visit the country as most people doubted that she would make it. “We wish to congratulate her for her appointment into the AU, which is a powerful organisation in the continent. “She has become the first female to be appointed to the post. To show just how powerful Dlamini-Zuma is, I received a call from the Royal Villas (where she is accommodated) and they wanted clarity on the booking for the visitor. Apparently REDI, the South African High Commission and the Swazi government had all made a booking for the same person and this confused the hosting hotel. “We offer prayers for her to succeed in her new position and with God's wisdom she will succeed indeed,” he remarked.

Gumbi further pointed out that it was not intentional that they hosted Dlamini-Zuma during the reed dance ceremony in the Shiselweni region, but hoped that next time it would not be repeated. He added that they decided on hosting the luncheon at S&B Restaurant in a bid to empower reigning Business Woman of the Year Award winner Fortunate Fyfe, who owns the establishment.