Women being failed again... this time by land reform panel

King Goodwill Zwelithini. File photo.
King Goodwill Zwelithini. File photo.

I was frothing at the mouth as I read the report on land on Sunday. The recommendations by the expert panel were discouraging and infuriating.

My hope is that President Cyril Ramaphosa will ignore this shady report like he did the high level panel report led by Kgalema Motlanthe, which found that the Ingonyama Trust in KwaZulu-Natal ought to be dissolved and the Ingonyama Trust Act repealed.

The land report is extensive and covers many aspects of land reform but fundamentally, this report on land gave very little consideration to what the majority of South Africans demand: expropriation of all land without compensation.

The report is disrespectful to the people of SA who made public submissions and gave a clear mandate to parliament to return the land to the native who was illegally dispossessed by force.

Indeed, the land issue is a contentious issue, gripped by difficulties of race and gender among others. Therefore, those who must return the land will not be happy, even the custodian of the Ingonyama Trust will not be pleased that the panel found that the trust ought to be repealed or reviewed.

The panel boldly recommended that the government should immediately assume responsibility and custodianship of the trust land and administer it on behalf of its citizens and yet it failed to outline the same about land belonging to white farmers.

The lack of consistency is appalling. Farmers should continue to farm, yes, but the land they till should belong to the state. Broad-based black economic empowerment must apply to white-owned farms - farmworkers deserve more than peasant wages.

But quite frankly, all land should be expropriated without compensation and all land should vest upon the state until further notice. The people want the land to be nationalised. I want all land to be nationalised.

Why did the panel ignore this?

And since the panel feared the collapse of constitutional provisions, why not recommend that the state be custodian of all land to ensure that constitutional provisions such as the right to equality, for example - is not infringed upon, seeing that it is non-derogable right?

It may well be unfair discrimination to solely expropriate on the grounds of race, even if section 25 is amended accordingly. It may be best for the land to vest the state since we are yet to settle the condensed issue of land security and beneficiary selection among others.

What struck me most was that the panel made no clear recommendation how women ought to benefit from land reform. We already know that "women must have access to land if land reform is to realise its developmental goals."

The panel highlighted key issues that emerged from round-table discussions with rural women, but made no recommendation how to overcome the challenges. I found its assessment on the issues faced by women very cosmetic.

We know the challenges faced by women, we just don't know how those challenges will be overcome.

It seems the panel only included notes on women and land since it may be politically incorrect not to do so. For instance, the panel notes that the UN declared that women's land rights are a human right, yet women in SA are being denied secure rights to land, but the panel recommends nothing on that front.

It is very cosmetic that the panel "insists that the policy approach must purposefully redress gender imbalances." but similarly fail to highlight which of the discriminatory laws and customary norms must be challenged or abolished to realise gender equality in land reform.

Women are being failed again.

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