Civil Rights

Will South Africa go the way of Zimbabwe? FMF's Nolutshungu says no


This February, South African President Jacob Zuma resigned under pressure from his own party due to corruption charges. While this might have signaled hope for the future, new President Cyril Ramaphosa has shored up his political coalition by supporting a parliamentary motion favoring the confiscation of land without compensation. The move seems to echo similar land reform that took place in Zimbabwe two decades ago with disastrous results.

The Free Market Foundation, an Atlas Network partner based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has had recent success with a different sort of property rights project, helping black South Africans reclaim title to property they occupied but could not own under apartheid. This project – Khaya Lam – earned Free Market Foundation recognition as a finalist for Atlas Network’s prestigious Templeton Freedom Award in 2015.

“While the words ‘expropriation without compensation’ sound ominously like a precursor to a Zimbabwe-like dispossession of property, it is not,” said Temba Nolutshungu, Director of the Free Market Foundation, at an Atlas Network event in New York City on April 25. “If food security is to be protected and economic growth and job creation are not to be undermined, the process that is being considered is vastly different to the illegal taking of property by force in Zimbabwe, which was done with the approval of the former president, Robert Mugabe. The South African motion respects the Constitution, even though the proposal seeks to weaken its property rights protection clause. The general public does have the right to comment on the parliamentary proposal. … South Africa might go through some hard times, but it will not go the way of Zimbabwe.”

Temba Nolutshungu, Director of the Free Market Foundation, speaking Atlas Network’s event in New York City on April 25.

The event was part of Atlas Network’s Global Policy Perspectives series in New York City, which is generously supported by the Achelis & Bodman Foundation and the Smith Family Foundation.

Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips (right) with Temba Nolutshungu, Director of the Free Market Foundation.

“With excessive regulations, you tend to constrict the spirit of enterprise,” Nolutshungu continued. “Whether South Africa will go the way of Zimbabwe or not is about the battle between rhetoric that is anchored in ideological trappings and reality.”