Expropriation without compensation (EWC) isn’t an abstract threat, always too far away to matter and only affecting the people you don’t care about. It is very, and most unfortunately, real and present.
With Parliament agreeing to review section 25 of the Constitution, we aren’t yet facing expropriation without compensation, but we are faced with the fact that our legislators are at least predisposed towards eliminating private property rights in South Africa. If or when section 25 is amended, the government will be allowed to seize private property without giving any compensation or being required to negotiate with the victims.
But even without amending the Constitution, plans have already been revealed of how the ANC will proceed with mass land-theft.
This disastrous policy has been pushed forward by the African National Congress (ANC), backed by the ANC-in-exile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). This is not just some idle support of a controversial policy, however. At the risk of sounding alarmist – you should be alarmed – the policy of expropriation without compensation is socially, politically and economically disastrous.
Yet, so many South Africans are apathetic. At best, they talk about expropriation without compensation in detached whispers, as if discussing Crimea. It isn’t something that one wants to acknowledge as happening to them. In fact, a lot of people, including land owners, have denied the threat of expropriation without compensation, thinking that it will only affect rural white farmers.
But society ripples. It won’t just affect white farmers. This policy will have dire consequences for all of South Africa. The following, to drive home the severity of EWC, are just a few:
1. Food prices will rise, if food doesn’t just run out
Many in the EFF and ANC have this romantic notion around small-scale, peasant style farming. A big part of the campaign to pass EWC is to, allegedly, redistribute farmland to create jobs for black people who were oppressed during Apartheid. EWC, they argue, is the fast-track to effective land reform that will bolster the wealth of the previously impoverished.
Yet, small-scale farming and even large-scale farming is not the path to prosperity. It is more often a money-sink, hardly seeing profits for decades. Farming is a skill and capital-intensive industry. Take it away from the current farmers, and you are left with farmers without the skill or capital to keep it going. And this isn’t racism. If a non-farming white person was given a farm, they would fail just as much as a non-farming black person.
We shouldn’t be playing around with food security. Already South Africa’s farming industry has suffered under threats of EWC and ever-increasing farm attacks. This is not something you merely read about in the news.
When farmers suffer, when the next harvest is uncertain, when the entire livelihoods and properties of the food producer is under threat, food security suffers. And at best, the price of food rises to exorbitant amounts, or we become completely reliant on foreign imports (which the government likes to restrict and heavily tax, making it expensive again). And at worst, we starve.
Venezuela and Zimbabwe are modern-day examples of the failures of socialism in achieving food security. The 20th century is rife with even more examples of how collectivisation, land reform and expropriation cause mass starvation. EWC will cause similar symptoms.
Succinctly: If you don’t want to starve or spend all your money on food, then oppose EWC.
2. No property will be safe
The proposed Expropriation Bill doesn’t only affect white-owned farms. It allows the state to seize anything. That means urban properties, holiday homes, apartment blocks. And not just landed property. EWC isn’t just about land reform. It is about instituting total collectivisation over the country. The Expropriation Bill allows the state to seize intellectual property, stocks, pensions… anything.
And there will be no negotiations. No compensation.
If you own stuff, and want to keep it, you need to oppose EWC.
3. Your wealth is at risk
If EWC is instated, the economy will crash. This doesn’t only affect the rich stockbrokers and business owners. This affects the poorest beggar, every professional, children in schools – everyone. World Wars have started over economic situations less dire than South Africa today. We have untold numbers of people living in poverty, without any opportunities. EWC will remove the few opportunities we have.
As trust in property rights deteriorates, investors will leave. Capital will flood out of the country. Banks will lose billions. And no, the “evil” banker doesn’t suffer. That’s your money they’re losing. Your savings. But it won’t be their fault. It will be yours for not doing everything within your power to stop EWC from happening.
A macroeconomic impact assessment of EWC from the Gordon Institute of Business Science states:
“It makes no sense to attempt the implementation of land reform policies that have proven over and over again to exercise a destructive influence on the economy and threaten the livelihoods of the most vulnerable members of society — those that cannot sell their skills in other jurisdictions.”
And as EWC becomes another money-sink, the state will raise more taxes, enforce more regulations, and take more and more of your already-dwindling cash.
The economy will fail with EWC. This is not up for debate anymore. It is a certainty, and those arguing that it will not harm the economy are the worst kind of liars and useful idiots. When the economy fails, everyone will suffer.
4. Your favourite brands will disappear
If the loss of food, your stuff and your financial well-being aren’t convincing enough, then I must appeal to your consumerism. As EWC rips apart property rights and the economy, companies whose products you enjoy will leave the country. This goes for fast-food chains, restaurants, cell phone brands, access to designer gear, access to private security and all other forms of gadgets and conveniences.
Companies that can leave, will, because they don’t want to risk losing their stuff. And because they reasonably don’t want to share a huge part of their profit-pie with a government run by gangsters.
Most South Africans don’t support EWC. But they don’t need to. They just need to remain silent. Revolutions are won by stubborn and violent minorities. The pro-EWC factions in South Africa will stop at nothing to pass their bizarre pseudo-religious ideas – even at the expense of our hard-won rights, our freedom, our prosperity and our lives.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This saying has been commonly attributed to Edmund Burke.
It is way past time for more South Africans to take a popular stand against an unacceptable policy. I am not calling for mass protest or picketing. I’ve never found those to be effective. But there are many ways you can help oppose EWC.
From writing to your legislators, holding your political party accountable, writing articles for the media, donating to civil society organisations like the Free Market Foundation, Institute of Race Relations, and AfriForum. Help get the word out about this policy that many South Africans aren’t aware of or care about. Share Rational Standard content on social media. Tell your friends and family.
Don’t be afraid to be vociferous. Facts are on the side of those who oppose EWC. And it is time we stop apologising for it. It is time we get busy and stop the oncoming destruction of South Africa.