Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba’s bold plan to entrench property rights among the poor have won the backing of quarters opposed to property rights who lobby for ownership by the state. The simple truth is South Africans want direct ownership by the people (not government) as Ineng workshops have shown.
What are Property Rights?
“Laws created by governments in regards to how individuals can control, benefit from and transfer property. Economic theory contends that government enforcement of strong property rights is a determinant regarding the level of economic success seen in the area. Individuals will create new forms of property to generate wealth, only when they are assured that their rights to their property will protect them against unjust and/or unlawful actions by other parties.” Read more at: Property Rights Definition | Investopedia
Property Rights “allow people to acquire property and to invest in capital goods – such as houses, factories and equipment that will improve their future lives and make production easier and cheaper – without the threat of being robbed or exploited by other people or by officials.” – Eamonn Butler in Foundations of a Free Society
Replace Failed East-European Assumptions with Entrepreneurship
The zero sum-game advanced by some using out-dated economic assumptions that collapsed with the fall of the Berlin Wall views poverty as a consequence of some direct exploitation in which the state must step forward as supreme “custodian” of the country’s wealth. Yet the reality of underdevelopment is that it is not exploitation per se, but marginalization from the mainstream of the economic life of the nation. We require a society of ownership by the people, not the state, if we are to provide sources of capital for the citizens.
Ownership for All
Private ownership, property titling and the rule of law must facilitate an open, investor-friendly business environment to stimulate job creation, personal responsibility and an ever-expanding network of opportunity in order to uplift the poorest of the poor. Putting the wealth-creating capacities of our nation into the hands of an elite ruling majority will not create wealth and opportunity. As experience across the world has demonstrated, such measures lead to the exact opposite. State governments have been and continue to be the worst exploiters of human beings.
Ending Apartheid’s brutal legacy
The South African government owns much of the land that was forcefully taken by the apartheid state to serve their variant of white-minority statist regime. The land must be returned to the disenfranchised under a system of property-titling and private ownership. With private ownership come the opportunities to obtain loans against what one owns in order to start new enterprises and invest in further training or education. The government’s inheritance of apartheid government confiscations must be returned to the people through the privatization of failing state assets and the resources the state currently owns to entrepreneurs, accompanied by a structured transfer of proceeds to those directly exploited and robbed under the apartheid regime.
Perhaps we can look no further than Temba Nolutshungu, a jailed contemporary of the late Steve Biko, who more than anyone else today remains a voice of the past with a solution to fulfilling the dream of a better future: a future in which we can all live not only in freedom by name, but a freedom that translates into decent living standards, fresh opportunities and the dignity that comes with succeeding as Africans on a continent that has so much to offer at precisely a time when global uncertainty calls for new ways of thinking. We showed the world that peace amidst the most trying of circumstances is possible to achieve. Each of us can take confidence in knowing that prosperity in the midst of poverty is a birthright each can obtain.