Picture: 123RF/Adiruch
Picture: 123RF/Adiruch

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe was right on the money when he warned of the massive harm that would be caused if property rights aren’t protected in SA. Speaking in Pretoria, Motlanthe said: “If property is not protected you destroy value, and if there’s no value then you won’t have an economy driving forward.”

Without the surety that their property would be safe from seizure, neither local nor foreign investors would have any reason to invest in SA. Small businesses, the backbone of the SA economy, already under enormous pressure because of onerous labour regulations, will fall away without capital investment. And while the intended goal of expropriation without compensation is redress, the result will be catastrophic for both agriculture and the wider economy.

Justifiable land reform, infused with the rule of law, and underpinned by individual property rights and recognised title deeds, is the proper, moral way forward. To grant the state the power to seize property (all property) at will undermines any progress which has been made since 1994, and ensures that all South Africans can only “own” property as long as whomever wields political power is happy for them to do so.

The quest for land reform and restitution is a just one, but it must be done correctly and thoughtfully. If property rights are ignored, poorer South Africans, the overwhelming majority of whom are black, will suffer because all investment, and economic growth with it, will leave SA. We often talk about the lack of certainty in SA; let us have the right kind of certainty — certainty and security of property rights.

Chris Hattingh
Free Market Foundation