Constance Mogale, 52, is the national coordinator for the Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD), a collective of civil society organisations and community groupings promoting rural democracy and land justice. While at the ARD she has led the national campaign against draft legislation that would affect the tenure, governance and rights of the millions of people living in communal areas.
Constance also led the Land Access Movement of South Africa, or Lamosa, a grassroots movement of communities claiming land through restitution. Lamosa obtained a favourable judgment in the constitutional court when it challenged the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act of 2015.
Constance is also a fellow of the Atlantic Institute for Racial Equity, which tackles inequalities around the world through collective action. In December 2021, people and land rights organisations argued that parliament had not complied with its duty to facilitate meaningful public participation when it passed the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act. They said the Act “would have a devastating impact upon the lives of rural people as it gave new and extended powers over land to traditional authorities” and “does not provide for a single mechanism that would allow a community to hold a traditional authority to account”.
She says her greatest achievement was in May this year when she led a team of rural communities challenging the Act and the constitutional court declared it unconstitutional.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Be yourself and do your best, always.
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
I am studying for my MPhil and also continuously learning through the various opportunities I access through the Atlantic Institute for Racial Equity global community I am a part of. I also make available opportunities to many rural women to empower themselves and to also learn new skills through the work I do at the Alliance for Rural Development.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
Rural democracy and access to land for the women who are still marginalised and discriminated against.