THE BLOG
09/04/2018 14:03 SAST | Updated 09/04/2018 14:03 SAST

We Need Gender Equality On Land Ownership In Honour Of Madikizela-Mandela

In Mam' Winnie, the nation has lost one of the pillars of the struggle against gender inequality.

Gulshan Khan/ AFP Photo

During the occasion of celebrating the 80th birthday of the late Mam' Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Cyril Ramaphosa said: "We know that she did not set out on the struggle with the expectation of recognition or reward, but by the sheer weight of determination, her name will forever secure a permanent place in the history of our liberation struggle.

"From her book of life, future generations will pick a leaf on what it means to be a phenomenal woman. From her life, they will know what it means to stand for justice. From her life, they will know what it means to be faithful and loyal to the cause of human freedom. From her life, they know that this is not a man's world, that women too are heroes, that they too have shaped the course of our history..."

Mam' Winnie contributed immensely to the achievement of democracy in South Africa. The 1994 democratic government became a reality because of her relentless active participation in the struggle against unjust laws. Through her selfless contributions, the post-apartheid government has enacted various policies underpinned by principles of equality that include the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms.

The policies enacted by the post-apartheid government create the ideal equal society, but it is for the policy implementers to ensure that the ideal equal society is achieved. Enacting of policies that promote equality does not ipso facto [equal] the reduction of inequalities. The success of policies lies in the understanding of the context and content of the policies. The commitment and capacity of the implementers coupled with active participation of various role players and stakeholders also play an important role in the success of the policies.

Scholars argue that characters of policy also have a direct influence on the success of the policy. Theodore Lowi mentions the three characters of policy as regulatory, distributive and redistributive. He defines regulatory policies as specifying procedures of conduct with sanctions for failure to comply, distributive policies as creating public goods for the general welfare, and redistributive policies are aimed at changing allocations of wealth or power of some groups at the expense of others.

Bogalebjapoo Koma suggests that policies must have flexible and adaptable character. When developing and implementing policies aimed at eradicating inequalities that agitated Mam ' Winnie to offer her entire life to the struggle for equality, the only people to be at the forefront must be the theoretically and practically grounded, who are the embodiments of the values and principles of Mam' Winnie.

Reuters Photographer / Reuters
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The current debate on land ownership offers those who are willing to emulate Mam' Winnie an immediate opportunity to advance a qualitative and quantitative gender equality agenda on land ownership. Laws that will radically redress gender inequalities on land ownership must be developed and implemented without further delay. Despite all post-1994 policies on land, landlessness in South Africa continues to have a female face – in particular, a black face.

The land audit report November 2017 by the rural and land reform department indicates that there is a total of 722,667 hectares of "erven land", of which 46 percent is owned by men, 17 percent by women, 19 percent by men and women as joint owners, and 1 percent co-owned (co-owned means all classification of male, females, male-female as joint owners and others). On "farms and agricultural land", the report indicates that there is a total of 37,078,289 hectares, with 71 percent owned by men, 13 percent owned by women, men and women as joint owners in 11 percent, and co-owners at 2 percent – with "others" at 3 percent.

In her honour, policy makers and implementers must be biased towards women in the control, ownership and management of economic sectors in the country. Despite all progressive post-1994 policies, there is still no equitable representation of women at the strategic decision-making levels in private and public sector. The high echelons of powers are dominated by males. According to Commission of Employment Equity 2016/17 report, males occupy around 78 percent of the top management positions.

Those who for real celebrate the life of Mam' Winnie must persuade policy makers to enact laws of 50/50 percent gender parity in all sectors at all levels, and there must be punitive measures for non-compliance with those laws.

Despite reports indicating that women are now officially the most qualified gender in the mining industry, with black women tipping the scales in the sector, males still dominate in terms of control, management and ownership in the sector.

The current consultations on revised mining charter offer an opportunity to those inspired by the life of Mam' Winnie to be in the forefront and call for gender equality in mining as a step towards gender equality in all economic sectors. Those who for real celebrate the life of Mam' Winnie must persuade policy makers to enact laws of 50/50 percent gender parity in all sectors at all levels, and there must be punitive measures for non-compliance with those laws.

In Mam' Winnie, the nation has lost one of the pillars of the struggle against gender inequalities. The spear has fallen. The fearless, capable and committed South Africans must rise up and not allow Mam' Winnie to die, but to multiply her. In honour of the mother of the nation, in theory and in practice, South Africans must unite and unapologetically advance the struggle for quantitative and qualitative gender equality on land ownership and economic freedom.

Sediko Rakolote is the commissioner at Commission for Gender Equality and he writes this in his personal capacity.