Delegates at the Men’s Parliament, which was held recently by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), called for all forms of patriarchy to be eradicated from the South African society. They described patriarchy and patriarchal stereotypes as the source of all gender-related challenges, including gender-based violence.

Men from across the nine provinces of South Africa gathered in the NCOP chambers on Monday and Tuesday to discuss issues affecting men in society. Participants called on the men’s movement to address, among many pressing issues, men’s mental health and initiation schools.

A delegate from the Free State said he was glad that traditional leaders were present at the Parliament, as the rising number of young boys dying in initiation schools has to be addressed with urgency. Delegates recommended that a review of initiation school timeframes be undertaken. Participants also said that boys come back from initiation schools behaving like gangsters, which is the exact antithesis of the objective of the tradition of initiation. Initiation is supposed to ensure that boys become responsible members of society, ready to become leaders in their families and communities.

Mr Mawethu Zitha, a delegate from the Eastern Cape, called for the men’s sector and the Men’s Parliament to be supported financially so that they can become institutionalised. This view was supported by KwaZulu Natal delegates. Delegates highlighted that men are threats to their communities and to women in particular. They said Men’s Parliament must become a forum to assist in the fight against crimes perpetrated by men.

Participants argued for a Ministry of Men in the Presidency, just as there is one responsible for women, youth and persons with disabilities. Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu called for men to take the lead in the fight against gender-based violence. Young boys must be taught at an early age to respect women and a moral value system must be maintained. He called on men to “… be the teachers of a new value system to the young men, as our forebears did to us”.

Yoliswa Landu
23 November 2022