Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Professor Steven Friedman’s confusion, "When property rights crusaders are silent" (August 15), seems to know no bounds when it comes to the all-important issue of strong property rights.

In the absence of constitutional protection of property rights, or its express protection in terms of the rule of law, labour tenants and inner-city tenants would be far more vulnerable than actual owners or landlords of land and properties as it would be so easy for the government to confiscate the premises without compensation.

Expropriation of land without compensation means everyone who owns property or aspires to do so is equally vulnerable.

While white-owned land is being targeted for expropriation, black-owned land would not be exempted.

Let’s say that a couple of elections down the line, there is a totally different government in place. In a plausible scenario, a predominantly Nguni-ruling government in alliance with the English or Afrikaners wants to economically emasculate Sotho/Tswana/Khoisan descendants or vice versa. With expropriation without compensation in place, this would be very easy to achieve. It would just entail confiscating their land.

Despite superficial assurances, the Ingonyama Trust land and other land that falls within the jurisdiction of traditional communities would definitely be vulnerable. Strong protection of property rights is what is required.

As for Friedman’s reference to Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba, a man of unassailable integrity, I bet that he did not make a statement supporting expropriation without compensation. If he did make it, then it should not be decontextualised.

Temba A Nolutshungu, Director, Free Market Foundation