09/08/2017 14:35 SAST | Updated 09/08/2017 14:35 SAST

EFF's New Women's Command: 'We Will Focus On Much More Than Kitchen Politics'

It will rival the ANC's Women's League which is currently the only political party with a women's branch.

Members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.

African feminism will be on the agenda of the soon to be formed Economic Freedom Fighters women's command.

The party says the new wing will not stray away from its current constituency, which focuses on black workers' rights. The red berets' Lee-Anne Mathys said it would take a while to carefully position the women's movement in the current South African context.

"We need to properly position feminism in the context of African feminism and then break it down to South African feminism, what's working for our black women," Mathys explained.

The ANC is currently the only political party with a women's wing with its ANC Women's League. The league, chaired by the Minister Social Development Bathabile Dlamini, has been in existence for over 50 decades under the mother body.

It was not until 1948 that the women were formally allowed to be a part of the ANC, but for a long time they were only deployed in catering and mobilisation. The league was formed from the Bantu Women`s League (BWL) which was chaired by struggle stalwart, Charlotte Maxeke. The BWL was mostly involved in passive resistance and concentrated on the fight against passes for black women.

"We also want to make sure that it doesn't become another women's section of playing kitchen politics in a political party," Mathys said.

Reflecting on the role of women in the EFF, party member Simamkele Dlakuva, published by News24, criticized the party for dragging its feet in an alleged rape incident.

Two EFF student leaders (current and former) were accused of rape at the University of Cape Town, leading to the suspension of only one of the accused from the institution's student body.

She also goes on to mention how black women candidates at the university were harassed by men within the party on social media.

"Again, there have been no disciplinary action taken against these men, how are these inactions a demonstration of a commitment to anti-sexism by the EFF," she laments. "Why are toxic forms of masculinity allowed to flourish within the party without any cost?"

She says while there is a fair representation of black women in leadership positions as in the North West province with over 60 percent of female counsellors, the party needs to move "beyond acquiring balanced numbers".

Mathys said the EFF has not yet decided when exactly the women's command will be formally implemented as a legitimate body within the party