The Womxn and Democracy Initiative (WDI) is based at the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape. We identify as feminist, taking an intersectional approach to our work on realising social justice through active political participation of the public in the context of a feminist version of constitutional democracy.
With this project we considered the three biggest and one newly formed small political parties’ manifestos and hope to provide information to the public on the extent to which parties respond to an intersectional feminist agenda. We hope this will increase the tools available to hold political parties accountable after elections, to the promises they make to the public through their manifestos ahead of elections. Political parties themselves may find the content useful for reflection on these issues and to consider their integration in future manifestos or policies.
While we do hope to make information available to help inform people ahead of the election, we are not attempting to tell people how to vote. That would be irresponsible, as the manifestos alone are blunt tools to assess the potential future performance of a party. These can really only tell us what political parties say they want voters to hear before an election. We hope that this analysis will serve beyond this time of election, to deepen public discourse from a feminist perspective and to deepen the idea of what a feminist agenda for political leadership might look like.
Despite the manifestos being ‘blunt’ in terms of holding political leadership to account, the more that the public inform ourselves, the more we engage with political parties on their pre-election promises, and the more we call on them to adapt their positions to respond to our needs, the more useful they become. Once a party gains power, be it nationally, provincially or in a single ward, or if they gain enough votes to be part of the opposition, then the manifestos can be used along with other methods to hold them to account.
We considered the three top performing political parties in the last national election – the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). We have also considered the manifestos of the newly emerged Ikhwezi Political Movement (IPM) a small women led party that is contesting the election in Plettenberg Bay - this manifesto, in contrast to the other three parties' lengthy offerings, is a concise two pager, the other point of difference is that IPM are only contesting in one municipality.