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Is land reform a priority for black South Africans? -Dr. Anthia Jeffery

The controversial Uncompensated Expropriation (EWC) Constitutional Amendment Bill has been used to collect votes on every occasion. Politicians argue that land ownership is on par with the prosperity of blacks, and uncompensated expropriation is the most effective way to remedy current inequality. Proponents of the bill say there is a fiery hunger for land among South Africans, but polls suggest that citizens have more pressing concerns than land redistribution. Dr. Anthea Jeffery follows over 20 years of research and identifies what is directly above the list of South African growing concerns.This article was first published Daily friend.. – Melaninasan

Employment or EWC – What do ordinary South Africans want?

Anthia Jeffery *

Two weeks ago, the Ad Hoc Commission, which was responsible for drafting the Uncompensated Expropriation (EWC) Constitutional Amendment Bill, said that burning land hunger among South Africans had to pass the bill. Claimed to be one of the reasons. The legislative process as quickly as possible.

However, as the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) polls consistently show, land reform is not an important priority for most blacks.

The first IRR poll was conducted in 2001, and subsequent polls were conducted in 2015 and every year thereafter. Interviews with respondents always began by asking people to identify important open issues or priorities that the government should address. Unemployment has always been identified as a major concern, but few black respondents have flagged land reform in this way.

Little evidence of land hunger

In 2001, 3% of black respondents identified “land reform” as a serious open issue. In 2015, land reform was not included in the top 10 open issues, but between 2016 and 2019, 0.5% (2016) and 1% of blacks saw it as a major challenge. It was (2017) and 2% (2018). And 2.8% (2019).

Only in 2020 did the government focus on EWC as a possible remedy for poverty, with the proportion of blacks identifying land reform as a serious open problem rising to 5%, Covid- It was exacerbated by the 19 blockades. However, the percentage of black respondents concerned about unemployment was again much higher, at 56%.

Years of IRR polls have also asked people if “more land reform” provides the best way to improve their lives. Support for this option among black respondents has long been limited, rising from 2% in 2015 and 1% in 2016 to 9% in 2018. The African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have made EWC widespread. But since then, black support for “more land reform” fell to about 4% in 2019 and remained about the same in 2020.

Since 2016, the IRR may also ask if it prefers a party that focuses on “faster economic growth and more employment” or a party that focuses on large-scale land expropriation for bailouts. did.

In 2016, about 84% of black respondents wanted a party focused on growth and employment, but only 7% preferred a party that emphasized large-scale land expropriation. Since then, the results have remained about the same.

Black support for growth and employment has fluctuated slightly. It decreased slightly to 80% in 2018 and increased slightly to 81% in 2020. However, 15% in 2018 and 2020.

A similar situation was illustrated in the 2019 eNCA poll, designed and analyzed by author RW Johnson for the May general election. Few black South Africans were interested in land reform (less than 2%), but the majority of black voters immediately came up with the idea of ​​EWC if this would help bring investment and employment. He said he would give up.

ANC’s own internal investigation into this issue has not been published. However, the IRR says land reform is the 13th highest priority in ANC polls. So it’s not really a priority at all.

In contrast to cash compensation, even among those who have disposed of their land under the apartheid law, and even among those who are most likely to have strongly wanted their land to be restored to them. There was little interest in the land.

Land money

When the land return process began in 1994, approximately 79,700 land claims had been submitted by the first deadline in December 1998. However, only about 5800 (about 8%) of these successful claimants chose to restore their land to them. The remaining 92% preferred to receive cash compensation instead.

Nkwinti said: Currently, only 5856 people have opted for land restoration. People wanted money because of poverty and unemployment, but they were urbanized and “uncultivated” in terms of cultivating land. “We no longer have farmers. Now we have wage earners,” he said.

Approximately 74,000 successful plaintiffs who may have been able to choose land rather than money may be considered respondents, especially in large polls. Most of them tell us that they chose cash over land in the face of real-life choices.

In addition, the current Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Toko Didiza, told the Ad Hoc Commission at the end of last month, making it clear that successful plaintiffs still prefer cash to land. Seem. According to Ms. Didiza, “as most claimants chose monetary compensation over land restoration, as the state wanted, the choices made by individual families and communities were a source of concern.”

Promotion of NDR

Therefore, the taste of ordinary South Africans is clear. However, these preferences are of little importance to the ANC, which intends to promote the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) through the “elimination” of “existing” property relations “”, among other measures.

Of course, that’s why ANC and its junior partner, EFF, discount polls and other evidence that South Africa wants. It is also determined that ANC and EFF members of the Ad Hoc Commission will ignore the host of well-founded warnings about the economic damage that widespread expropriation, especially for zero compensation, would bring. It’s also the reason why it seems to be.

When the ad hoc committee’s NDR ideology talks about reclaiming “stolen” land, they repeat the words of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. They are also at risk of causing the same kind of economic collapse that Zimbabwe suffered.

Some commentators claim that the seizure of only 4,500 white-owned farms in Zimbabwe was not the reason for the country’s economic implosion. However, a careful examination of what went wrong reveals the opposite.

Property rights and economy

In the words of Craig Richardson, an associate professor of economics at Salem College (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) and author of the book on the collapse of Zimbabwe, the central issue is simply: – The economic foundation – and triggered a chain reaction, which was exacerbated by the additional actions of the Robert Mugabe government.

When the Zimbabwean government declared ownership of all farmland, all existing ownership became worthless and the land could no longer be used as collateral for bank loans. Many banks quickly fell into a financial crisis, but credit contracts and capital spending plummeted.

These events destroy capital flight, a sharp decline in agriculture and other production, a dramatic reduction in the tax base, a sudden decline in hard currencies previously acquired by agriculture and other exports, and a shortage of import necessities. It was useful for. Hyperinflation surged as the government began printing billions of dollars in Zimbabwe dollars to help pay the bill.

Commentators may try to dismiss the risk of similar consequences here because South Africa has a much larger and more diversified economy and is inherently stronger than its northern neighbors. In addition, the ANC government has promised (as valuable) the use of extended expropriation rights in a limited and responsible manner.

However, there is no room for complacency as the EWC bill is underway and the expropriation bill will soon be submitted to Congress for adoption. As Professor Richardson points out, ownership is like “the concrete foundation of a building: important to support the frame and roof, but virtually invisible to its inhabitants.” But with them removed, the structure is no longer safe.

The resulting damage can be very rapid and widespread. The initial erosion of property rights may seem relatively limited, but it can easily cause a domino effect.

Professor Richardson wrote: [from Zimbabwe] Well-protected property rights are crucial to economic growth and serve as the cornerstone of the market economy. When these rights are compromised or removed, the economy tends to collapse at an alarmingly devastating rate.

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Is land reform a priority for black South Africans? -Dr. Anthia Jeffery

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