‘Expropriation without compensation inconvenient for white South Africans’
A study shows expropriation without compensation would devastate poor blacks, as in Zimbabwe, writes Nathi Olifant
EXPROPRIATION without compensation would be a significant inconvenience for white South Africans, but completely disastrous for most black South Africans, in particular the poor.
This is not because black people cannot farm, but because, as tenants on stateowned land, black people will have no security of tenure or guaranteed entitlement to the land’s produce.
This argument, which has thrown a spanner in the works in the raging debate over land expropriation is contained in a research article titled “Expropriation: Anti-white in rhetoric, anti-black in practice” by Martin van Staden, a legal researcher for the Free Market Foundation.
Van Staden said there needed to be a way to ensure that the benefits of property ownership that whites had enjoyed were extended to everyone.
However, he first points out that people do not want to go out to the rural areas where government appears intent on driving them.
“They wish to live in the cities, as do people across the world. But they are not being accommodated, because many township inhabitants continue to live on municipal land; a leftover of apartheid leasehold tenure that this government refuses to abolish,” he said.
Van Staden argues that all the progress made since apartheid ended stands to be undone unless people recognise that a most fundamental human right is for people to have the ability to own and control property.
He said this included the produce of their own efforts and being able to dispose of it as they see fit.
“This implies a market economy, where all people are at liberty to deal with their property and conduct their affairs according to their own needs and motivations,” he said.
Van Staden, who is also a libertarian, lawyer, and public policy commentator, said apartheid was a denial of this fundamental human right to the majority of South Africa’s citizens.
“To be in favour of property rights today, therefore, is not to maintain so-called white privilege, but to ensure that the benefits of property ownership that whites had enjoyed be extended to everyone.
“If people of all races could have the security the white population had, we would see more suburbs and fewer townships, tar rather than dust, and prosperity rather than destitution,” said the co-founder of and the editor-in-chief of the Rational Standard.
He said when the current constitution came into operation in 1996 with a relatively strong property rights provision, everyone finally had the right to property, and almost immediately black incomes – which had plateaued during apartheid – began rising steadily.
“This, of course, plateaued again around the time government started introducing draconian labour legislation.
“Property rights are meaningless if the state is not under an obligation to provide compensation for expropriation.”
He said if you were not entitled to compensation, it means your prior legitimate ownership is denied.
“Such a state of affairs will make the granting of credit in respect of mostly agricultural property a thing of the past.
“This is what destroyed the Zimbabwean economy,” he said.
“White South Africans, for the most part, will survive expropriation without compensation.
“There are no majorityshanty towns in Zimbabwe,” he said
He argues that farmers either left Zimbabwe to farm in neighbouring states, returned to England, or moved into the cities where they are still, by far, more prosperous than the black Zimbabwean majority.
Koos Mthimkhulu inspects his herd of cattle on his farm at Senekal, in the eastern Free State. The debate over expropriation should take into account that property rights should not be the purview of only a few, says a legal researcher.