Get women access to land 'now or never' - Bathabile Dlamini

"Now or never" is the time to achieve land ownership for women, Minister in the Presidency for Women Bathabile Dlamini said on Tuesday.

She addressed a seminar on landless women in South Africa, hosted by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa.

Dlamini said she went through several papers on women and land.

"I looked into the Islamic system and the African traditional system, which are basically the same: They both oppress women," she said.

She said there were four areas that were important in relation to women's access to land, the first being title deeds.

"We all think a title deed is the most important document. But a title deed without enough land means nothing," she said.

"Before we make noise about title deeds, we must make noise about more land."

'Women treated as non-human'

The second area Dlamini considered was the patriarchal system.

She said the land she grew up on was her great-grandfather's, then her grandfather's, then her father's, and now her brothers'.

"If you have girls only, the whole system throws you away," Dlamini said.

She added that, if a woman had a problem in her marriage and went back to her family, she was "treated as non-human".

Dlamini's third point was that other countries also amended their constitutions or laws.

"They made a mistake. They used customary laws to govern the land. Now, the land belongs to the state," she said.

"We must analyse our situation and see what we can do about our situation."

The fourth area Dlamini highlighted was that women and girls work the land, but still didn't own it. 

The exploitation of women

"The first thing we need is more land." She added that the land must be worked and not only for subsistence. 

"We must have access to land because land dictates the power of nations."

"Capitalism is built on exploitation, more particularly of women."

"We feel the time has come for women to own land," she said. "If we don't do it now, we'll never access the land. It is now or never."

"When is the state going to focus on state land? When is government going to focus on its own farms? We have to start somewhere," she said.

In December, at the ANC's national elective conference in Johannesburg, the party adopted a resolution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation, subject to a feasibility study, to ensure that food security and the economy were not threatened.

In February, it supported an EFF motion, after amending it, that Section 25 of the Constitution be reviewed. Parliament's Joint Constitutional Review Committee is currently busy with this process. 

Dlamini said the reason they thought the Constitution must be amended "is because whatever we are doing now was based on the 1913 Land Act", while the colonial authorities dispossessed black people of a lot of land before 1913.

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