In February 2018, South Africa’s Parliament adopted a resolution providing that the Constitution should
be amended to allow government to expropriate property without being required to pay compensation. At
the time of writing, it was also proposed that the amendment provide for outright nationalisation of all
fixed property (“land”) in the country.
The Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill, whether in its current or in a different form, is likely to be
adopted, and will change section 25 of the Constitution, to, at least, allow for no-compensation confiscation
of property. The Expropriation Bill, an ordinary piece of legislation, is also likely to be adopted, and will
spell out the precise procedure and requirements for when property may be so expropriated without
compensation. This bill provides scant protection for property rights.
This paper discusses the dangers of government’s proposed confiscation regime. Secondly, it explains why
secure, entrenched private property rights serve, rather than undermine or hamstring, the public interest.
Thirdly, the alternatives to confiscation and nationalisation will be discussed. These include the fact that
government is financially capable of providing market-related compensation for expropriations; that
restitution of land and property is achievable (indeed imperative) without destroying property rights; that
urban land reform success is within grasp but underappreciated; and that much can be done about rural
reform without threatening the economy or food security. Fourthly, a viable, pro-property rights alternative
to government’s proposed legislation is outlined.
To achieve a better life for all, including the poorest of the poor, freedoms and security of property must
be respected and expanded. The Economic Freedom of the World report illustrates this by showing a strong
correlation between GDP per capita and economic freedom, of which property rights is a precondition.
This paper proposes that confiscation and nationalisation be abandoned in favour of viable, property
The full paper can be accessed HERE