Champions of Freedom – 2015 Liberty Forum

Freedom movement supporters from around the world gathered in New York from 11 to 12 November to attend and participate in the Atlas Liberty Forum hosted by the Atlas Network. The Atlas Network has 464 partner organisations in 100 countries. This year’s Liberty Forum celebrated the legacy of the Atlas Founder, Antony Fisher, who would have turned 100 in June.

Khaya Lam Project

FMF directors Temba Nolutshungu and Eustace Davie attended the event and were given the opportunity to describe how the FMF’s Khaya Lam (My House) project is changing the lives of South Africans who are receiving freehold title deeds to the homes to which they had previously had occupancy but not ownership rights. The project is a partnership between municipalities and the FMF (supported by donors) to transfer ownership of township properties from municipalities to registered occupants.

As previously reported, Khaya Lam was one of the six finalists for the prestigious Templeton Freedom Award, which was won by the Acton Institute (US). Watch the Atlas video about Khaya Lam here 

Khaya Lam’s first aim is to facilitate the conversion to fully tradable freehold title to the occupants of municipal rental housing in its pilot area of Ngwathe, Free State, where there are an estimated 20,000 homes available for titling. The project gives preference to the elderly, indigent and single parent (mostly female) occupants. Anyone wishing to sponsor the titling of a home in Ngwathe at R1,850 can do so at

To date the total number of homes converted or in the process of conversion is 1,010 (750 in Ngwathe and 260 in the Western Cape) with total sponsorship of R1.87m. The estimated value of the houses converted and in the process of conversion at an average value of R100,000 each is R101m (R75m and R26m).

The ultimate objective is to ensure that all occupants of the estimated 5 to 7 million such apartheid era rental homes countrywide, held by government at national, provincial, and local levels, who have occupation rights but not ownership, receive fully tradable freehold titles to their homes. The estimated cost to convert all the houses to freehold title is from R9.25bn to R12.95bn and the value of all the houses available for conversion to freehold, R500bn to R700bn. Completing these conversions to freehold title will go some way towards reversing the harm caused by the 1913 Land Act, that deprived black South Africans of the right to own property in all so-called “white” areas for 78 years until its repeal in 1991.  

Minimum Wages

The introduction to the session at the Liberty Forum entitled Wage Wars; Advocating for Workers’ Rights, said, “Proposals to raise the minimum wage can sometimes put liberty advocates on their heels while proponents feign the moral high ground. But the truth is that denying an individual the freedom to contract and making economic opportunities for them less likely is anything but moral.”

Dr. Mark Skousen of Chapman University and John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute provided detailed explanations as to why setting minimum wages will unavoidably cause some people to lose their jobs and others fail to get jobs. No honest defenders of the minimum wage maintain that its implementation will cause no job losses. Instead, they use terms such as minimal job losses, apparently forgetting that it is the poorest and most vulnerable workers who lose their jobs and are not able to get jobs because of the barrier raised by the minimum wage.

Dr. Skousen acknowledged that there will be some beneficiaries. These are the workers who are fortunate to retain their jobs despite the forced wage increases. He suggested that they would most likely be employees of large businesses, especially those with larger profit margins. In the small businesses with low profit margins is where the greatest harm is done and the most job losses occur.

When I told the speakers that South Africa, with its high unemployment rate, intended to introduce a national minimum wage, they were appalled. Their questioning response was, “Does your government want to cause even greater unemployment and poverty?”

Author: Eustace Davie is a director of the Free Market Foundation. This article may be republished without prior consent but with acknowledgement to the author. The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the FMF.
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