‘Ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion in­con­ve­nient for white South Africans’

A study shows ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion would dev­as­tate poor blacks, as in Zim­babwe, writes Nathi Oli­fant

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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