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CANGO holds its 36th Annual General Meeting


Happy Valley Hotel 2018-09-27

On Thursday the 27th September 2018, CANGO held its 36th AGM.

Once a year, the General membership of the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) assemble to deliberate on thematic issues, annual financial audit and the annual report and reshape the upcoming year’s projections. Members also nominate and vote for new Members of the Governing Board.

This year marked the 36th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on the 27th September 2018 at Happy Valley Hotel, eZulwini, starting at 08:30am and ended at 01:00pm where over 30 NGOs were represented.

The 2018 AGM theme was: “The Role of NGOs in Promoting Women in Decision Making.”

The event started with the delivery of two key note addresses by the Principal Judge of the High Court, the Honarable Judge Qinisile Mabuza and Reverend Absalom Muntu Dlamini.

It then proceeded to the Chairperson Ms Hlobisile Nxumalo giving her report as well as the general overview of the Executive Director Mr Emmanuel Ndlangamandla.

In her remarks, the Honarable Judge Mabuza first thanked the assembly for visible work done in various capacities aimed at uplifting the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini.

“Before venturing into today’s topic, I would like to say thank you to all of you for the sterling work you do in your various diverse capacities in uplifting our people. Keep it up,” she said.

Quoting Mahtma Gandhi, the Honarable Judge emphasized on everyone’s role to promote women into decision-making than putting labels to them (women) and lamented gender inequality which subjects women to “various forms of male domination and discrimination.”

“Whilst forming the majority in the country women are missing in decision-making structures in many spheres of our society. Even where they occupy such positions, hey do not have power to make any decisions. It is their male bosses who make all the decisions. The women end up being merely Tokens of the female gender species,” she said.

In her presentation, the Judge noted that within traditional structures, local and national political (councillors, MPs, Cabinet, Government Boards) and private sectors, have failed to level equal representation of women into decision-making positions including Boards of Directors and CEOs.

She added that even when they are members of Boards, women are in the minority and their appointment merely to fulfil lip-service and not because they are in reality meant to be decision-makers.

“The minority of women in such spaces re-enforces the perception of gender discrimination and gender inequality, even though the right to equality is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, Section 20 provides for equality before the laws…,” she said.

Judge Mabuza added that despite the domestication of many international instruments such as the Beijing Conference of 1995 and CEDAW by promulgating statues and policies affecting women, it was regrettable the current proportion of women in leadership positions.

“The Constitution Act was passed during 2005 with an entrenched Bill of Rights. The Constitution set a target of 30% women in Parliament, while the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development that the country ratified in September 2012 stipulated a target of 50% by 2015.

“It is sadly notable that in spite of the all these initiatives, progress remains very slow.

“It is further regrettable that leadership positions continue to be dominated by men in both public and private spheres in our beautiful kingdom and yet women make up 51% of the total population according to the 2017 Eswatini Population and Housing census. For example, there has been a notable decline in the representation of women in the August and esteemed House of Parliament.

“This trend has continued in Cabinet and in the appointment of Principal Secretaries and Ambassadors,” she said.

Judge Mabuza said so long as women are not in decision making positions, the country is in a ‘tremendous loss of experience and expertise’ because women cannot make inputs into the development of the country.

She also said the failure to utilize women in decision-making implies that they cannot decide on issues that affect the country.

“This failure has negative repercussions on their advancement as women and to contributing to the journey to vision 2022 and agenda 2030 of the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

Remarks by Rev Absalom Dlamini

Reverend Absalom Dlamini stated that the trend in absence of women in decision-making was witnessed internationally but have merely resulted in quota systems which many are still battling to achieve.

“Women have been mobilised and sensitised from grassroot level but again there seems to be a psychological river that is impassable by our women. Workshops and training have been sponsored and conducted but the outcoming is still disappointing,” he said.

Dlamini said he comes from the NGOs sector where women, including former Maphalaleni MP Lomasotfo Martha Dludlu, at the time have immensely contributed to national building, showing the critical role women can as much play in similar positions with men which unfortunately was ever on a decrease.

He said in the past, there had been a number of women in decision-making positions rising from the notion of patriarchy and tradition. However, with women educated and liberated than before, there were still strong norms instilling fear in women to take up leadership positions which need to be dismantled. Dlamini said there was need for the literal pushing of women into decision-making positions and voice in order for the country to realise gender equality.

Dludlu was the first elected woman MP in the Kingdom representing her constituency from 1993 to 1998. Though with basic education, she was able to move motions on issues affecting women and her community in parliament for the benefit of her constituency. She was, however, a lone voice a disadvantage in seeing things change expediently for many women. “She understood her role as a constituency representative and a Legislator,” he said.

Dlamini has been in politics for 25 years where he became Member of Parliament and former Minister of Economic Planning and Development and principal of New Haven Bible College.

He attributed the regress in number of women in decision making positions because of lack of strategies.

“The representation of women in decision-making positions must be looked at and attended to with more focused approach at the NGO level,” Dlamini said.

“We have to address these gender disparities in our times if we are to achieve development. Before we go out to the streets, let’s do an introspection and then empower women to positions of power.

“The Legislature must fully support the implementation of quotas for women appointment to decision-making according to international agreements. This means providing an enabling legal framework for women inclusion in decision-making.

“There must be a deliberate move by Legislators and everyone everywhere to make sure that these quotas are filled up,” he said.