News / Opinion / Columns

Martin Williams
3 minute read
14 Mar 2018
9:45 am

Where do you stand on land?

Martin Williams

The ANC equivocates, hypocritically pandering to EFF-style populism, while its leaders enjoy the benefits of private wealth.

A farm worker on a tractor works a field on a farm in the Oudtshoorn district of the Klein Karoo in the Western Cape province of South Africa. File image.

There is an upside to the EFF’s race-tinged threat to punish the DA for refusing to support an ANC/EFF parliamentary motion on expropriation without compensation.

The EFF says it will “cut the throat of whiteness” by removing Athol Trollip as Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (NMB) mayor, through a no-confidence motion.

There is no guarantee the motion will succeed. The ANC might not agree to have its candidate choice dictated by a minority party. And the arithmetic is not as simple as the rhetoric.

Out of 120 seats in NMB, the DA has 57. Its coalition partners, Cope and ACDP, have one each. The ANC has 50, the EFF six, the UDM two. The PA, UF and AIC have one each. Just one or two doubters could change the balance. Who knows?

Compromise is part of politics, but the DA says it will not compromise on private property rights. This is an opportunity for the parties to clarify their policies.

The EFF wants the state to be custodian of all property. The ANC, split between Zupta and Ramapostponer factions, is less clear.

Since the expropriation motion debate, the ANC has given no indication of what it means by a “future land tenure regime”. The ANC seems to be following the EFF’s lead. By contrast, the DA seeks to establish clear blue water between its liberal focus on the value of individual, versus the collectivist ideologies of the EFF/ANC.

There remains a misperception that the DA is doing nothing, or is silent on land reform. Let’s restate it plainly: the DA supports land reform, including restitution. Redress for past imbalances guides all policies.

The EFF says the state must own and control all property, including land, homes, businesses and intellectual property. In this vision, private property is abolished. The EFF is a racist, totalitarian state in incubation.

The ANC equivocates, hypocritically pandering to EFF-style populism, while its leaders enjoy the benefits of private wealth. Unlike the EFF and the DA, the ANC is incapable of confronting the problems presented by traditional and communal ownership, where tenure is tenuous. Through 24 years of incompetence and corruption, the ANC has failed to implement meaningful land reform.

The DA says most South Africans in rural and urban areas would rather own land than have limited rights to use land they don’t own. The DA is obsessed with title deed reform, giving people ownership of homes they live in.

Property ownership rights are the foundation of successful economies. Property rights allow families and individuals to create wealth and to pass it on from generation to generation. Property rights allow individuals a greater say in their own futures.

With the state as custodian of all property, black people, generational victims of apartheid deprivation, would not be able to own land. It would be distributed with short- and medium-term leases. Instead of being free to own their own land, black South Africans would be dependent on government.

An ideological choice must be made between the freedom to own property, or to cede that right to a state, not knowing the intentions of present and future leaders.

Martin Williams

Martin Williams

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