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UWC hosts international conference ahead of 2019 elections

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By Anees Teladia

The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Policy, the Dullah Omar Institute and the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Department of Political Studies held an International Conference on the 2019 National and Provincial Elections looming in South Africa. The conference was hosted at UWC and sought to address four key topics / questions surrounding the elections, namely:

  • The politics of populism: How does South Africa fare?
  • Do provincial politics matter?
  • How does the womxn’s agenda fare in the elections?
  • E-rigged elections: election credibility?

There were many valuable contributions to the different questions from the various panellists and the conference served to foster more critical thought around many of the issues people face during election periods.

Speakers included:

  • Ralph Mathekga – a senior researcher at the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at UWC
  • Professor Cherrel Africa – from the department of political studies at UWC
  • Reverend Courtney Sampson – the provincial electoral officer of the IEC in the Western Cape
  • Ebrahim Fakir – director of programmes at Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (ASRI)
  • Samantha Waterhouse from the Women and Democracy Initiative of the Dullah Omar Institute, UWC
  • Motlatsi Komote from the Women and Democracy Initiative of the Dullah Omar Institute, UWC.

There were also many other speakers, including but not limited to international speakers such as Professor Xavier Philippe of the University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and Professor Henk Kummeling, former Chairperson of the Netherlands Electoral Commission, and Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University.

VOC News joined the conference for the segment on the “womxn’s” agenda.

The panellists speaking on the topic were very passionate and raised some valid points on the challenges women face in South African society and politics.

There was, however, a lack of diversity as far as opinions on the topic are concerned. The viewpoints put forward were predominantly those of the feminist ideology and the panel failed to make provision for alternative opinions which may have fostered more robust debate.

No one seemed to disagree with the viewpoints put forward by the other panellists in this segment.

Public comments and reactions to the “womxns” segment indicated that religion has been identified as a core problem in preventing the promotion of women. It was also suggested that it is in part the cause of the emphasis placed on women as being primarily purposed for child bearing and domestic life.

Economic structure (more specifically, capitalism) was also identified as a key issue in the advancement of “womxn” and as being a source of inequality between the sexes.

Some strong accusations were also casually flung at political parties.

Included in the discussion was the relevance of race within the topic of sex and gender, as well as some figures which indicated levels of inequality between men and women.

A statistic was provided by Motlatsi Komote which indicated that “black women have higher rates of food poverty in comparison to white women”.

Komote also suggested that “more women are affected by poverty than men, across all nine provinces in South Africa,” and that “women are not owning as much land as they should”.


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