The National Council of Provinces hosted the National Men’s Parliament on the theme “Takuwani Riime! Institutionalising a Responsive Men’s Movement.” This meeting shines a light on the interventions that men can implement to combat gender-based-violence and femicide (GBVF) and promote men’s mental health related to the cultural practice of circumcision.

In her opening remarks, the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Sylvia Lucas, claimed that the war against GBVF cannot be won without the active involvement of men. “GBVF has been acutely normalised through tradition and customs that perpetuate patriarchy,” she pointed out. She was hopeful that this Parliament will assist in rebuilding men’s social fabric and enlist them to become the custodians of moral leadership to shift our society towards healing.  

The Deputy Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, iNkosi Langa Mavuso, mourned the deaths and loss of manhood experienced by initiates during their initiation. He appealed for a collaborative engagement between the government, traditional authorities, parents and medical institutions to make the practice of circumcision a communal responsibility.

The Chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission, Prof Luka Mosoma, agreed that circumcision must be based on protecting initiates’ dignity and right to life. As much as this practice is revered in our Africa tradition, “the loss of boys’ lives is what attracts negative criticism against this practice as barbaric and backward, as nothing more than an instrument of death rather than the humanisation of boys through this rite of passage.” 

He was hopeful that the Customary Initiation Act will give us tangible guidelines and directives to curb the onslaught of death of initiates. 

Speaking on the perennial problem of GBVF, the youth secretary of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, Prince Itumeleng Shole, claimed that the oppression of women is non-African. “As Africans, we respect queens, for they are the ones who run African monarchies, as much as mothers run African households.” He blamed colonialism and apartheid for alienating men from their communal responsibilities rooted in African traditions and customs. “This session must define what is expected of men, how are expected to conduct themselves and to re-embrace our African traditions and customs.”

The eradication of poverty in rural areas could play a role in empowering women and in curbing gender-based violence, said Mr Karabo Dube, of the Mosiamise Rural Development. “The silence of the developmental voice of rural women is deafening. That is why we intend to create an investment pipeline to attract investment to rural areas to empower women.”

The pressure on men to be bread winners and provide for their households is a heavy burden, said the executive director of the Networking HIV/Aids Community of Southern Africa, Mr Mohamed Motala. When they cannot meet this expectation, they feel inadequate but this is not an easy thing to talk about. “But through our programmes we are poised to change this attitude to make South Africa safe for women,” he said.

Abel Mputing
21 November 2022