Parliament should intervene and find mechanisms to ensure that the men’s sector receives both financial and non-financial support from provincial and local governments. This was the impassioned plea of some delegates on the first day of proceedings at the National Men’s Parliament on Monday, 21 November 2022. The non-financial support should include permission to use provincial legislature chambers and local councils to hold men’s sector sessions, they said.

The National Men’s Parliament is part of Parliament’s initiative to address sector-specific challenges in order to develop a coordinated national plan of action on the role that men should play in the fight against gender-based violence. Other parliamentary sector-based initiatives include the Youth and Women’s parliaments; all of them are convened bi-annually. Delegates at the National Men’s Parliament represent the men’s sector in all nine provinces, as well as the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders.

The second session of the Men’s Parliament on Monday involved hearing progress reports from men’s sector provincial chairpersons. Delegates heard that the men’s sector in North West is the only sector receiving both financial and non-financial support from the provincial government. However, the North West provincial Chairperson, Mr Saki Tlotleng, said that although six leaders have been established in the four districts, low morale amongst some of the leaders is an ongoing issue.

“Our biggest challenge is people who avail themselves for leadership positions and not commit to the roles that come with those positions,” said Mr Tlotleng.

Meanwhile, chairpersons from other provinces pleaded with Parliament to draft a standard letter instructing provincial and local governments to work closely with the men’s sector.

Mr Beau Nkaeleng, who is the men’s sector Chairperson in the Northern Cape, commented on the poor mental health of South African men, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He flagged mental health as an ongoing pandemic that has claimed the lives of many men and turned others into what he called heartless monsters. Echoing this sentiment, Mr Mokgethi Ranthako, who is the provincial chairperson in Gauteng said that government should train more male social workers and place them in all clinics.

Isibaya Samadoda’s founder and leader, Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu, then gave remarks at the end of the session. He appealed to men to be responsible as the festive season approaches. He also encouraged them not to give alcohol to underage teenagers. “The country is facing the problem of drug and alcohol abuse and, in light of that, any responsible man should do everything within their power to make sure that their underage children don’t get to taste alcohol under their watch,” said Prince Zulu.

He went further to say that men should also take responsibility for their sexual behaviour, saying that it is wrong for children to be brought up by single mothers, while their fathers are alive and bear no responsibility for them. “We should teach our boys that women are not driving schools, whereby one can learn how to drive and go buy the car elsewhere,” he said.

Justice Molafo
22 November 2022