Thursday, 19 January 2012

Issues and Challenges Surrounding Land Tenure Security in South Africa

As a result of the inequalities of social exclusion by the Apartheid regime, the women of South Africa decline to carry pass (compulsory identity document carried by women) in 1956. Finally their protest to be recognized not only as housewives belonging to the kitchen were a success, this meant that they were part of the decision making in the country. The euphoria experienced by the South Africa society in 1994 with democracy, brought with it policy reformation and transformation and also uniting the different cultures. Under the transformation umbrella, the African National Congress (ANC) government made its task to address policies that fostered inequality and damaged the social aspects of the country and
divided it. This resulted in restricting social policies that also included land policies which were to be a priority. Land in Africa has been considered as the most important in all (social) aspects. This article will look at the government policies on land redistribution and land tenure security with a gender perspective. Looking at mechanisms, criteria and approaches the government of South Africa has taken to address and promote the distribution by access of land to women. Particular attention should be paid to undoubtedly the land reforms policies designed by the government; however gender equality should still be at the forefront of government legislation. Gender equality on land reforms process should be viewed as the most important aspect of poverty alleviation and sustainable development within the South African society.

This essay will give a report towards the handling of land reforms policies by the South African government on a gender basis. Gender is described as a culturally prescribed social roles and identities of men and women within a society. These identities are highly variable across cultures and are subject to change, as contrasted with sex that is the biological difference between men and women determined at birth (UN-HABITAT, 2008). This security of women is important as it contributes to protecting the group which is vulnerable to abuse. This article will draw on literature on aspect related to the development of gender sensitivity the access and rights of women to land and tenure security. It will provide a framework on the recent focus of policy development by the government and the position they in securing land tenure security in South Africa. By development meaning there should be creation of institutions and for those that are already there to be improved. On critical level, the analysis of the South African land reforms programmes is said to have three elements; Restitution, redistribution and tenure reforms. Restitution deals with historical rights in land and tenure reforms with farms of land holding, redistribution is aimed at transforming the racial pattern of land ownership (Land Reform in South Africa June Report, 2005). The UNAIDS-led global coalition suggests that through greater ownership and control over economic assets have higher incomes, a secure place to live, and greater bargaining power within their household (Economic Security for Women Fights AIDS, The global Coalition on Women and AIDS; issue #3). They can, it is argued better protect themselves against social ills such as domestic violence and meet their essential economic needs. “Tenure is best understood as a social and political process rather than a system of laws or rules”. It can be understood as the process that defines the kinds of households that qualify socially and politically for land. Property rights include the right to own, acquire and manage, administer, enjoy and dispose of tangible and intangible property including land, housing, money, bank account, livestock, crops and pensions. When access is denied or restricted women may find themselves struggling alone with fewer resources and less support from their husbands. The burden on women thereby increases, without the control of resources shifting to them. Family status, gender and age all contribute to the widely agreed hierarchy of entitlement to land. Married, older men have greater rights and access; unmarried younger women have the least access. Gender inequality continues to cause serious problems in Africa. Women mostly lack control over resources such as land and it is difficult to make decisions that can improve family income. Without any control of family income, for example by growing cash crops, women contribute their time and labour only for subsistence and are more likely to be affected by poverty than men. Thus gender equality means equality at all level of control over resources and equal representation in public and political life. Customary or traditional laws have hampered the way in which women can enjoy their status and position within the household. This article defends the fact that women do have the right and to own property under their name. There are minimum efforts placed by the government of South Africa as it is failing, practically to address gender policies effectively through land reforms. Without the development of proper structures and land tenure systems, it is unlikely that women can enjoy security. This article draws on sections related to feminist perspective on the role of gender on land issues and positions that the government legislations could adopt. Followed by the traditional customary laws that describe the position that women have played throughout history within family structures and how it impacts on property rights and security of tenure towards gender. Furthermore, articulating the critical issue that government is faced within land reforms programmes should improve their land reforms policies and encouraging women to know their rights in that regard. The core point is in the introduction of tenure security and land reforms policy as a means of human security focus that government of South Africa should primarily take cognizance. In South Africa’s post apartheid era, “it is democratic forces that have brought about land reform and constitutional changes that had unlocked the potential for women to access land and natural resources in ways that could enhance their livelihoods”. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of transformation and negotiations of land from farm owners (with title deeds) that the government should address as current policies fail to adequately provide fail to adequately provide land tenure security to women.

1 comment:

  1. In rural settings, land tenure is also often insecure for the poor, as well as for women, who face problems such as unlawful evictions by family members after the death of a husband or father.