OPINION

Property rights a pillar of stability in successful countries - Afrikanerbond

Jaco Schoeman says President's dream of a new dawn could become a nightmare with EWC

STATEMENT BY JACO SCHOEMAN, CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRIKANERBOND AND CONVENOR OF THE AD HOC GROUP FOR THE PROTECTION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS PROPERTY RIGHTS AND LAND: GREATER POLICY UNCERTAINTY AND EVEN MORE WASTE

Warnings have been made in many quarters for a long time that fast and loose talk about land and property rights must not become a political football. This would destabilise the country and create greater uncertainty.

Property rights are one of the pillars of stability in many a country that is successful and continues to develop successfully. These rights cannot be taken away like lollipops by some people and then simply redistributed to others, solely on the basis of race. Nor can this be implied in statements and policy frameworks. Unfortunately, this has been the case in recent years and it gained momentum with the ANC’s national conference in December 2017 around the accepted proposal of expropriation without compensation.

No land was stolen by white people. No land belongs to others, simply because you are black and live in Africa. Land and property are obtained through hard work and perseverance, and through development, planning, management and productivity. White South Africans are universally recognised as among the best farmers in the world, also by leaders in Africa. This is just as true of the proud black owners of successful farms in South Africa, who produce food, shoulder to shoulder with white farmers, and contribute to food security.

Professor Mohammad Karaan, dean of the faculty of Agri Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch, states that about “R300 billion is being wasted on attempts to bring people into farming”. This speaks volumes and ought to send an urgent message to the government. Rather create and promote a model that works and is successful. Too much time, energy and scarce funds are being spent on idealistic dreams and ideologies. This was pointed out in the recent debate about the State of the Nation Address. Unfortunately the message is falling on deaf ears and populist claims are being promoted which contribute to vast uncertainty.

Even the best president, budgets and cabinet reshuffles will not change this. Many South Africans and many organisations have frequently confirmed their commitment to land reform. There is more than enough land on the market to meet the need for actual land. There are many success stories of partnerships, mentorships and proof of excellent co-operation between existing farmers and emerging farmers in initiatives at grassroots level.

The best man/woman for the job and sound market principles will in themselves determine the outcome. Give every South African the opportunity to become the architect of his own life and keep the polluted hands of political pawns away from the South Africans who want to, and are prepared to earn and own their property by the sweat of their brows. Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha’s great “forgiving attitude” and promise of a property summit on land reform in March are simply an announcement without substance. It is a non-transparent attempt to buy time. What new game and game rules does he want to put in place, other than the recognised and clear principles of property rights?

Unfortunately, the dream of a new dawn by a President who inspires hope, can quickly become a nightmare if land ownership and property rights are played like a chess game, using either only white or only black chess pieces. The success of the game lies in using all the pieces, black and white, with great ingenuity and insight, not in misrepresentations and false perceptions. That would replace hope with false hope and eventually with violent disillusionment. We must not permit it.

Statement issued by the Afrikanerbond, 21 February 2018