EX­PRO­PRI­A­TION MUST HAVE AN END IN SIGHT

CityPress - - Voices & Careers - Yonela Diko [email protected]­press.co.za

The con­sti­tu­tional re­view com­mit­tee on the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion has com­pleted its work and pre­sented its re­port to both houses of Parliament and the re­port has been adopted. The next step is for the amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion process to be­gin in earnest with the for­ma­tion of an ad hoc com­mit­tee on the amend­ment bill, which should pass in both houses – and also pass con­sti­tu­tional muster.

The real task will be find­ing the best method­olo­gies to re­alise the new amend­ment fully and to strike the best so­cioe­co­nomic bal­ance. Most im­por­tantly, how­ever, par­tic­u­larly for those who re­main ap­pre­hen­sive about this amend­ment, it’s im­por­tant not to lose sight of what the po­ten­tial of a pos­t­ex­pro­pri­a­tion South Africa could be.

The eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits of higher lev­els of land and prop­erty own­er­ship in any coun­try are well doc­u­mented. En­sur­ing that prop­erty own­er­ship is wide­spread and deeply felt can lift a coun­try’s eco­nomic prospects, give its GDP a leap and in­crease the per capita in­come.

Re­search has shown that where there are high lev­els of prop­erty own­er­ship there are also high lev­els of ed­u­ca­tional out­comes. Chil­dren of prop­erty own­ers fare bet­ter at school than those who are ei­ther rent­ing homes or have un­sta­ble board­ing.

This makes sense not only be­cause prop­erty own­ers can draw down on their eq­uity and build de­cent homes or pay for their chil­dren’s school fees but the se­cu­rity of a home, of as­sets, gives chil­dren the psy­cho­log­i­cal com­fort and cer­tainty nec­es­sary to fo­cus on their ed­u­ca­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. This has meant that chil­dren who come from fam­ily-owned homes have a lower rate of drop­ping out.

The sec­ond ben­e­fit of own­ing prop­erty is that in most com­mu­ni­ties, home­own­ers are more in­volved. They par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­nity safety pro­grammes and eco­nomic projects and lo­cal elec­tions.

Prop­erty own­ers, re­search has shown, are health­ier and more ful­filled, mak­ing them more pro­duc­tive and less of a bur­den on the health sys­tem. Prop­erty is se­cu­rity, which you can use to secure more fi­nances, start a busi­ness or build more as­sets, and this af­fects your men­tal health and wealth stand­ing in so­ci­ety. The dis­tress of not hav­ing prop­erty or a home of your own re­sults in many men­tal health prob­lems.

Com­mu­ni­ties with high lev­els of prop­erty own­er­ship also seem to have lower lev­els of crime. It is said that its eas­ier to spot a crim­i­nal in a sta­ble neigh­bour­hood of home­own­ers than shift­ing rental neigh­bour­hoods where peo­ple come and go.

It is clear then that peo­ple who own land and prop­erty are em­pow­ered, with a string of other eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits.

Land ex­pro­pri­a­tion will solve an­other big prob­lem. Leav­ing land un­used sti­fles eco­nomic growth. Con­cen­tra­tion of land own­er­ship in the hands of the few re­sults in kilo­me­tres of land ly­ing dor­mant and be­ing used at most to ac­cu­mu­late value and for spec­u­la­tive pur­poses.

This is no dif­fer­ent to the gen­eral con­cen­tra­tion of wealth. If 10 peo­ple have R10 mil­lion, they won’t spend much of it. If 1 000 peo­ple have R10 000, they will likely spend it and boost eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. More land own­er­ship will re­sult in higher lev­els of land use and an eco­nomic boost.

Ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion will, there­fore, at its tail end, be the best thing to hap­pen to our coun­try and our econ­omy. The big ques­tion, of course, is how we find the right path to lead us to this de­sired end.

What are the eco­nomics of ex­pro­pri­at­ing land with­out com­pen­sa­tion? In an eco­nomic sys­tem that is at equi­lib­rium, what is given to a per­son must nec­es­sar­ily be com­ing or taken from an­other per­son or en­tity. Noth­ing ex­ists in limbo. The re­wards, how­ever, do not have to be mone­tary. We do give away things for free, the phil­an­thropic work of bil­lion­aires, schol­ar­ships, wel­fare, houses, and these do not col­lapse the sys­tem be­cause those who give away not only de­rive the sat­is­fac­tion of chang­ing an­other per­son’s life but are fully aware their con­tri­bu­tion. Shel­ter for the home­less and liveli­hoods for the poor bring col­lec­tive gains to so­ci­ety.

If you give away your land to those who don’t have it, it will im­prove the coun­try’s dis­po­si­tion and en­trench so­cial co­he­sion, re­sult­ing in ev­ery­one do­ing well over­all, that is an eco­nomic re­ward.

What be­comes an eco­nomic prob­lem is “forced re­dis­tri­bu­tion”. This means in South Africa white peo­ple can change the en­tire eco­nomic risk of land re­dis­tri­bu­tion and turn it into an eco­nomic boost by sim­ply view­ing it pos­i­tively.

David and Elaine Pot­ter, a UK cou­ple, who own a ta­ble-grape farm in Stel­len­bosch, did just that. In Oc­to­ber they handed over a “R30 mil­lion ar­chi­tect­de­signed vil­lage for their work­ers on their farm in the Cape winelands and trans­ferred ti­tles to them”. They call this vil­lage, for good mea­sure, Lu­mière, mean­ing “new dawn”. This cou­ple un­der­stood that giv­ing their work­ers land would not be enough. They also had to give them qual­ity houses be­fit­ting the neigh­bour­hood where they have worked for their en­tire lives. Now these work­ers can count among their neigh­bours the con­tro­ver­sial Rem­gro chair­per­son Jo­hann Ru­pert, Richard Bran­son and Analjit Singh.

The think­ing of this cou­ple in giv­ing away the estate was that it was time to break the gen­er­a­tional cy­cle, be­cause not all the chil­dren of farm­work­ers want to be farm­work­ers, some want to be ac­coun­tants and en­gi­neers, and an op­por­tu­nity to own prop­erty and a home is a key in­gre­di­ent for that to hap­pen.

The prob­lem of course is that as long as we have political par­ties such as the DA and Free­dom Front Plus, among oth­ers, cre­at­ing an im­pres­sion that the coun­try is en­gaged in forced re­dis­tri­bu­tion, un­in­formed in­vestors will be ap­pre­hen­sive. Real in­vestors, how­ever, such as the Potters, who have made money in this coun­try since the 1990s, de­cided, of their own ac­cord, that re­dis­tribut­ing land and wealth to their work­ers was the right thing to do.

Wel­come to the New Dawn.

Diko is spokesper­son of the ANC in the West­ern Cape

PHOTO: TE­BOGO LETSIE

WORK­ING THE LAND The sun sets at a farm out­side Mokopane in Lim­popo

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