Civil Rights

Free Market Foundation's Khaya Lam land reform finalist for prestigious Templeton Freedom Award

Khaya Lam 2

The majority of black South Africans do not have titles to property because the effects of apartheid-era policies continue to have consequences today. Atlas Network partner the Free Market Foundation (FMF) of Johannesburg has been named one of six finalists for this year’s prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award for its Khaya Lam (My House) Land Reform project, which is bringing about the titling of apartheid-era properties in which black families had and still have occupation rights but have lacked title deeds.

The Khaya Lam project is a living example of a truth expressed by Sir John Templeton: “Property rights are essential for human rights.” This project is unlocking freedoms that have been denied to black South Africans for more than a century. The Khaya Lam project has already provided resources to carry out the conversion of some of these properties — out of an estimated 5 to 7 million that are eligible countrywide — to freehold title ownership in the hands of beneficiaries.

“Those who have been deprived by a racially biased law of the right to own property in land in their own country for 78 years cannot possibly understand the effects that such deprivation has,” said FMF Director Eustace Davie. “Black South Africans have had occupancy rights in state-owned rental housing in separate apartheid townships built especially to house them in proximity to ‘white’ towns and cities. The FMF’s Khaya Lam (My House) Land Reform project was initiated because two decades after the end of apartheid, millions of black South Africans are still living with the insecurity of title they had under apartheid.”

Remedying the situation requires more than just educating the intended beneficiaries about their rights. Distrust, ambiguity, and prohibition costs have all worked together to prevent a more rapid transfer of otherwise available titles. Through bulk processing and other cost reduction measures, the FMF has reduced the cost from about $490 to $150 per title deed.

FMF’s pilot project has focused on the Ngwathe municipal area of the Free State province, where there are an estimated 20,000 houses for which the ownership rights have not been documented and registered. The major purpose of this pilot project was to determine the most rapid and cost-efficient method of registering the rights of the homeowners and placing them in possession of title deeds that prove their rights and enable them to trade with their property legally, in any way they please. In other words, to arrive as close as possible to the ideal described by Sir John Templeton, in which “the legal system supports the right to property and [carries] little or no restrictions on selling, exchanging or dividing property.” More than 800 of the Ngwathe houses have either already been converted or are in the process of being converted by the end of October.

“Our task is to make everyone in the country aware of how the country will change for the better if we can extinguish the effects of one of the greatest crimes of apartheid: depriving black South Africans of property rights for 78 years,” Davie said. “Calls for information are coming in from all over the country. The process has now been proven. Our challenge is to get as many people as possible involved to get the job done countrywide as rapidly as possible.”

The Free Market Foundation believes that the positive outcomes will influence the government to extend the policy to South Africa’s seven million government-owned rental houses across the country.

Large-scale success with Khaya Lam would provide a counteracting force to the slide toward socialism that is currently occurring in South Africa. With increasing numbers of low-income people owning their own homes, their perspectives about the value of property rights would change dramatically.

“We’re delighted to announce the Free Market Foundation as a finalist for the Templeton Freedom Award,” said Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips. “Many believe the struggle against injustice ended with apartheid two decades ago. To its enormous credit, the FMF has not let up. Its Khaya Lam project is having a tangible effect on individuals’ lives and is laying the groundwork for a freer society.”

Awarded since 2004, the Templeton Freedom Award is named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. The award annually honors his legacy by identifying and recognizing the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise, and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation, and human fulfillment via free competition. The award is generously supported by Templeton Religion Trust and will be presented during Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner. The winning organization will receive a $100,000 prize and the runners-up will receive $5,000.

The 2015 Templeton Freedom Award finalists are:

What: Free Market Foundation’s Khaya Lam Land Reform project named one of six finalists for Atlas Network’s prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award

When: Nov. 12, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner closing ceremony — Capitale, 130 Bowery, NYC (Bowery and Grand St.)

Press Contact: or (202) 449-8441

About Free Market Foundation

Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, The Free Market Foundation is an independent public benefit organization founded in 1975 to promote and foster an open society, the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic and press freedom as fundamental components of its advocacy of human rights and democracy based on classical liberal principles. It is financed by membership subscriptions, donations, and sponsorships.

About Atlas Network

Washington-based, Atlas Network is a nonprofit organization which strengthens the worldwide freedom movement by connecting 470 independent partners in 96 countries that share the vision of a free, prosperous, and peaceful world where limited governments defend the rule of law, private property, and free markets.