November 21, 2014 Print

The Free Market Foundation in South Africa is promoting a new project, called Khaya Lam (My House) Land Reform.

To this day, twenty years into democracy, the majority of blacks in South Africa still continue to be merely tenants on the property they occupy. Government, at national, provincial and local municipal level is still the landlord. Khaya Lam is passing over property rights to longtime inhabitants, effectively turning have-nots into haves at the stroke of a pen. And most significantly, at no stage does the process require that the government commandeer taxpayers’ incomes to fund the project.

Temba Nolutshungu, director of the Free Market Foundation (FMF), says, “In a free market, there has to be voluntary exchange, personal choice and private property. Only when government accepts these principles as sacrosanct, can South Africa realize a peaceful, socioeconomic revolution that will result in the economic uplifting of the greatest number of people.”

As new owners of their properties, they hire all sorts of artisans— brick layers, plasterers, carpenters, plumbers, welders, painters, and the like— to build additional rooms, renovate structures, or in some cases demolish outdated homes to rebuild. Owners must finance their own improvements for their own houses, encouraging work or income generating activities. The most entrepreneurial individuals set up informal retail shops, or even low scale manufacturing businesses, out of their homes.

These formerly state-owned rental properties now catalyze a cauldron of diverse economic activity in the townships and rural areas on a scale inconceivable only a short while ago. The project is still in pilot phase, with the goal of converting 30,000 municipally owned rental houses into freehold titles. FMF 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.