'Only two female premiers a 'step backwards' for ANC'
It was a "disappointment" and "a step backwards" that the ANC disregarded its own policy in appointing five male premiers in seven of the provinces won by the party in the elections.
That is the view of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) which on Tuesday called on the ANC to reconsider the appointments.
"These appointments are clearly a step backwards in the fight for gender equality and 50/50 balance in political representation between men and women in this year's elections," commission spokesperson Javu Baloyi said in a statement.
The commission said the ruling party had assured it and others during a conference on women's participation and representation in this year's elections "about its internal policy that will guide the party in ensuring that gender parity is adhered to".
"The ANC has indicated that it used gender parity as a criterion and the commission had anticipated that 50/50 representation where the party governs would be reached," said Baloyi.
The commission considered the ANC's announcement of the new premiers on Monday as a "deviation from its commitment to promote 50/50 gender representation in the appointment of provincial premiers".
"It is the [commission's] considered view that this decision is a regressive move in terms of the challenge of promoting gender equality in SA politics, especially at the highest levels of decision-making in government. The post of provincial premier is of critical importance, not merely for reasons of political symbolism, but also because it is the highest political office at the second tier of government in SA," Baloyi said.
The ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) said on Monday they instructed that all speakers of provincial legislatures be females.
"The NEC further agreed that in provinces where premiers are men, then at least 60% of the provincial executive must be constituted by women," said ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in a statement.
The commission said it "acknowledges" the ANC commitment to "balance this reduction in the number of female premiers by appointing female speakers at the provincial legislatures" but said it is "hardly an equivalent substitute or trade-off".
"The post of speaker at the provincial legislature although important, does not bear the same constitutional, legislative and political authority as that of provincial premier."