January – March 2009
Betonberaad and projects
In lieu of the more appealing bosberaad, the FMF holds an annual strategy meeting in the city, hence the more mundane betonberaad. This year we prioritised the following projects – some of which are expanded on in this Review. Economics Project (building a winning nation); Health Care Project (towards quality health-care for all); Land Reform Project (land for the landless); Good Law Project (rule of law, constitution, statutes / regulations); Parliamentary Project (liasing with political parties, evidence to Portfolio Committees, etc); Democracy dividend / Privatisation Project (righting the wrongs of the past); Electricity and Water.
Leon Louw continues to be in demand as a speaker at conferences and in-house corporate events on a number of topics relevant to the work of the FMF. This quarter he has addressed the following: the FIFA 2010 World Cup Organising Committee, Aveng Manufacturing and the Global Competitiveness Conference.
Health Policy Unit (HPU)
The work of the Foundation’s HPU has taken on a new impetus with an injection of funding from international pharmaceutical companies.
We are in discussion with the various health care provider organisations on the holding of a seminar mid-year, the purpose of which is improving relationships between the private and public sectors. The proposed title of the seminar is the same as our slogan for the year, Towards quality health care for all, moving the focus to the care of the patient and away from the wrangling that has occurred in recent years. We are all hoping that the new Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan, will retain her position after the election, which will allow rational dialogue to continue and private/public co-operation to improve dramatically.
The HPU is also in discussion with health care providers about the holding of a Health Care Conference towards the end of the year or early next year, at which the Minister of Health will be invited to give the keynote address. The conference will concentrate on describing the benefits of private/public co-operation and the huge benefits derived by South Africans across the income spectrum from having a strong private health care sector.
Recognising the importance of financing private health care, our economist Jasson Urbach, is working on a study with the tentative title: Paying for intervention: the cost of statutory intervention in medical schemes.
In the interim we continue to influence public opinion and policy via our dedicated website: www.healthpolicyunit.co.za.
The land reform project, led by Leon Louw, has made great strides in the past months with new research on urban land tenure issues, the economic implications of the Communal Land Rights Act (CLaRA) and the Makuleke land restitution and natural resource management story. All of the studies contribute to the project's focus on tenure upgrade, emphasising how tradable title can contribute to economic development in urban and rural areas.
The Law Review Project and the Free Market Foundation have a long-standing relationship with Alexandra and have used their unique understanding to launch several case studies on land tenure in urban communities. A Free State township will also be featured in the study. The “Perryville” Municipality, which includes this township, has come up with a way to expedite the transfer of tradable titles.
Temba Nolutshungu and Laura Grube interviewed traditional leaders and government officials in the Eastern Cape to see how CLaRA, if implemented, would affect rural communities. The legislation provides for the transfer of title in communal land to the communities and for land rights to be documented and registered in the deeds registry.
Assuming increased funding, the land reform project will continue its study of urban tenure issues.
This joint project between the FMF and Mercatus Centre has also completed a draft of the Makuleke land restitution story. The Makuleke are an example of how private property rights can create an incentive for communities to care for the natural environment. The Makuleke community was awarded property rights within Kruger National Park and have used the land to develop ecotourism.
The FMF Media Digest and FMF Event Digest were initiated this quarter to keep members and supporters in the loop. Media Digests are emailed to over 1200 addresses bi-monthly, while Event Digests are disseminated on an ad hoc basis. The Foundation’s website articles, sent to you weekly, are regularly republished by the local and international media. Via the Media Digest, members are made aware of how often FMF articles are republished and are also linked to articles originating from interviews or written specifically for the media. The Event Digest ensures that those who could not join us at our monthly in-house presentations can at least read all about them.
In 2008, 205 articles by or about the FMF were published by the local and international media. In the first quarter of 2009, 45 articles have been published. These range from NZ Prime Minister aims for competitive advantage by Eustace Davie, which was picked up by The Liberty Switchboard to Intellectual property rights central to society by Jasson Urbach, which was published in the Business Brief; from How SA can lead the world out of the global financial crisis, also by Eustace Davie, on Moneyweb, to I am the revolution by our Fulbright student Laura Grube, disseminated through iafrica.com. Both Leon Louw and Eustace Davie have been in demand on TV and radio: Eustace has appeared twice this year on CNBC Africa while Leon has been interviewed on a wide range of topics including the taxi industry, banking privacy, competition policy / price fixing and the global crisis.
The Foundation’s website continues to draw a wide readership. A new Feature Article is posted each week along with policy bulletins and regulation updates. This year our 12 articles to date include diverse topics: Make South Africa a tax haven to promote economic growth by Laura Grube, New Zealand Prime Minister aims for competitive advantage by Eustace Davie, and Myths about land reform by Leon Louw.
On March 27, we hosted a networking lunch at our offices catered by the excellent By Word of Mouth and sponsored by Wyeth. Our 12 guests were wined and dined while Leon talked of the Foundation’s work and the state of the nation given the global economic crisis. This was the 35th FMF luncheon held since they were initiated in 2003.
The Foundation plans to host a monthly presentation at the FMF during 2009 – except in April, which is bedevilled by public holidays and elections.
In a study released on Tuesday, February 24, data shows that countries that protect the physical and intellectual property of their people enjoy nearly nine times higher GDP per capita than countries ranking lowest in property rights protections. The study, the 2009 International Property Rights Index (IPRI), compared the protections of physical and intellectual property to economic stability in 115 countries representing 96 per cent of the world’s GDP. The Foundation and 53 organisations from six continents joined the Property Rights Alliance in Washington, DC and its Hernando de Soto Fellowship programme to disseminate the report which was launched worldwide on this date.
FMF director, Eustace Davie, presented his proposal entitled A Golden Opportunity for South Africa to a public meeting at the offices of the Foundation on Wednesday, 18 March. The motivation for his proposal is that, “The current turmoil in the world’s financial markets is a currency crisis caused by governments and central banks. The US government and its Federal Reserve Board are primarily responsible. The world needs an alternative reserve and the only feasible option is gold.”
Comings and goings at the FMF
Laura Grube is a visiting Fulbright student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is working with the Free Market Foundation for ten months, studying topics related to land reform and traditional government. While at the Foundation she has contributed to the Makuleke restitution case study, several land reform proposals and field studies on traditional leadership in the Eastern Cape. Laura graduated from Beloit College in May 2008.
Vivian Abit Atud is a researcher and policy analyst at the Foundation. She is currently studying aspects of education, economics, health and politics. She holds a B.Sc double honours (economics and gender studies) from UNIBU, Cameroon, and a postgraduate diploma in marketing management from UNISA, and is a master’s student at Wits (M.Com – MMIT).
Gail Daus, Council Member and Project Manager, is passionate about individual liberty, which is partly why she joined the Foundation in 2007. Jasson Urbach, economist, researcher and writer, has been with the Foundation since 2004. He is based in Durban.
Lyn Stidworthy has left the FMF after 17 years to try out life in KZN. Lyn is a keen diver and is hopefully enjoying many opportunities of visiting the Sharks… Lyn has been replaced by Gail Day, an old friend.
Still on the staff and not going anywhere, are Joan Evans, who joined the Foundation in 1983 and is the Administrative Manager and editor of many of the Foundation's articles and publications; Judith Skhosana, secretary, joined in 1995, who, apart from general duties, looks after our database and makes sure the weekly emails are delivered; Christine Karabo, receptionist at the Foundation since 1996, answers the telephones and makes sure visitors feel welcome.
- Held its annual Intellectual Property Rights conference at the Hilton; Douglas Lippoldt, the OECD’s senior economist and policy analyst, gave the keynote address.
- Presented two “state of the nation” addresses at our offices, both featuring Leon Louw: Eskom: The shocking truth and The sub-prime crisis.
- Launched the Habits of highly effective countries: Lessons for South Africa DVD.
- Led evidence on the Medicines and related substances bill to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health.
- Co-authored with Mercatus for the Enterprise Africa studies: Overcoming the African food crisis – the role of improved agricultural technology on the use of new technologies by smallholder farmers in Malawi and Kenya and the Makuleke land restitution and conservation project: a case study of community-based natural resource management.
Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch! Well, almost…
We have been clearing out our storeroom and have decided to offer members and supporters free copies of our older publications. So if you would like to add our FREE BOOKS to your home, office, school, university and/or municipal library, please arrange to collect them from our Sandton offices. Already we are boxing five copies of each publication for inclusion in the following libraries: Cida City Campus, the Branson School of Entrepreneurship and the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus. The books include golden oldies such as Let the people govern by Frances Kendall and Leon Louw; classics such as The wisdom of Ludwig von Mises as presented by Philip Moore; and in-depth studies such as Seeds of hope: Agricultural technologies & poverty alleviation in rural South Africa by Karol Boudreaux.
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