Minister in the Presidency for Women Bathabile Dlamini spoke at a seminar on landless women, hosted by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa on Tuesday, telling those in attendance that it was “now or never” for women to attain ownership of land.
Some felt the minister to be a controversial choice to represent women in government, due to her track record as president of the ANC Women’s League, which includes defending Mduduzi Manana when he was accused of assaulting two women in a nightclub. She also stood behind former president Jacob Zuma over the rape charges levelled against him.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela was among those who spoke out against Dlamini’s appointment, saying it “shocked and disappointed” her.
The controversy surrounding her position as minister of women aside, Dlamini told the seminar she has been doing research in the hope of ensuring land ownership for women became a reality.
“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.”
“I looked into the Islamic system and the African traditional system, which are basically the same. They both oppress women,” Dlamini said.
Dlamini said without land, title deeds were meaningless.
“We all think a title deed is the most important document. But a title deed without enough land means nothing. Before we make noise about title deeds, we must make noise about more land,” she said.
Dlamini said the patriarchal system in South Africa prevented women from owning land, noting it was usually passed down through the family only from grandfather to father to son, leaving out the women in the family.
“If you have girls only, the whole system throws you away,” Dlamini said.
She complained that a woman who returned home after her a failed marriage was treated as “nonhuman”.
She continued to highlight how women were expected to work the land without owning it. She said capitalism was built on exploitation, “particularly of women”.
She used this to justify the idea of land ownership being transferred to the state.
Whether the ANC’s version of expropriation without compensation involves all land falling under state ownership is unclear.
While this is the EFF policy when it comes to land, how the ANC’s will play out is still a matter of debate within the party.
NEC member Ronald Lamola recently told those at the joint constitutional review committee hearings that the ANC did not believe in transferring all land to the state. Rather, ownership should continue in a mixed fashion with an emphasis on title deeds, or at the very least, another form of security of tenure.
“There must still be title deeds, to secure private deeds. Our policy is a mixture of ownership.
“The fact is the economy of the country is a mixed economy. In a mixed economy, you cannot have all the land of the country owned by the state.”