To push through the amendment to section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation it appears the ANC has finally shown what it thinks of South Africans’ property rights: mere playthings for the party to use as it manoeuvres before the local government elections in October.

On June 18, the ANC shifted onto the EFF’s turf and proposed that state custodianship be applicable to “certain land” within the context of expropriation.

From a practical perspective, state custodianship of land will open the door to yet more inefficiency and corruption in land reform — an area where, after some initial progress, the government has stalled. Precisely how increased state control would solve structural problems such as inefficiencies, personal agendas and power-lust remains a mystery.

To have a real chance at economic prosperity people need to own their property and be protected in law in terms of how they choose to use their property. Secure property rights are central to capital investment formation and investment, the creation of new businesses and the growth of businesses that is needed for widespread, long-lasting job creation.

Vesting a person’s property rights in a title deed, as one example, enables them to use the property as a business, to use it as collateral for other entrepreneurial activities, and to leave it to their children, thus carrying wealth through from generation to generation.

Expropriation without compensation fundamentally undermines all South Africans’ property rights and makes a mockery of the fight against colonialism, apartheid and the centuries-long denial of black South Africans’ property rights.

Chris Hattingh, Deputy director, Free Market Foundation

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