Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

If the ANC really believes in advancing the role of women, why does it insist on shoving such awful ones in our faces? I ask this question as someone who believes women are infinitely superior to men.

Consider how disappointing the recent past has been for women hoping to witness resistance against the toxic masculinity in the administration of Jacob Zuma. There was former energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson mouthing off incoherently in Parliament about cows licking fires, while being utterly useless with the nuclear deal — so useless she couldn’t even be corrupt. Or Bathabile Dlamini, swaying and shouting "uGrindrod! uGrindrod!" — little foot flat on the pedal towards the edge of the social welfare cliff. And Faith Muthambi, perpetually bent, defiant and dismissive, shamelessly mailing off confidential information to the Gupta family while wrecking everything else she touched.

Now, to our collective despondency, a second wave of unpleasantness is apparent. Jessie Duarte, the ideologically desperate deputy secretary-general of the ANC, has again barneyed unnecessarily with the media — as if she learned nothing from her humiliating encounter with BBC Radio 4 veteran John Humphrys in 2009. The majority of a panel of judges has decided that Nomgcobo Jiba, undeniably aligned to the ANC and the Zuma quarter within, is — contrary to a substantial body of evidence suggesting otherwise — fit and proper to return to the National Prosecuting Authority. Qedani Mahlangu, who sent 144 vulnerable souls to cruel deaths, has — preposterously — been voted onto the Gauteng ANC provincial executive committee.

Unprecedented activism involving the promotion of women at work and equal pay has erupted in the past two years, particularly relating to 2017’s women’s march, but it is now revealed as laughably narrow, thanks to almost immediate ideological contamination by poisonous individuals such as march campaigner Linda Sarsour. This "progressive" dimension to an otherwise perfectly reasonable position incorporated a gratuitous, racial bias towards people in the US administration while casually neglecting far worse offenders. It prevented legitimate frustrations from extending to the places they really needed to reach, such as the heart of the ANC.

There is also a deeply misguided presumption that because people such as self-identifying feminist Lindiwe Zulu occupy a cabinet position, the ANC must be fashionably woke or attuned to equality. Please, nothing could be further from the truth.

It is not as though there are no good women — more good women probably belong to the ANC legacy than that of most other political organisations. But these good women, those who subscribe to independent thought or believe in things such as entrepreneurial capitalism, are not as useful as the unpleasant ones, and by useful I mean protecting the patriarchy and enforcing the submission that characterises so much of the ANC’s deep beliefs. You only had to witness Dlamini’s defence of the serial woman-beater Mduduzi Manana — whose recent resignation, the ANC claims, is an act of remorse — or watch a Venda cultural group gift Hlaudi Motsoeneng a girl, or note the historical reluctance of female cabinet ministers to criticise the entitled behaviour of people such as Zuma or the Swazi king, to understand that the theory of contemporary gender equality in the ANC is a convoluted plot involving window dressing, lip service and, most disappointing of all, self-interest.

The days of credible political representatives genuinely agitating for deserved recognition are very, very far away indeed.

Reader is an executive at financial technology firm Fourex in London. He is writing a book on British, South African and European politics.