Freedom for all

All property ownership will be affected if property rights protection is removed from the Constitution, says Temba Nolutshungu, a director of the Free Market Foundation.

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We have come to a point, 18 years after the adoption of a liberal constitution, where it is clear that the freedom we fought for is being destroyed by people who place personal interests above national interests. We are told that safeguards built into the Constitution, to protect the people, were a strategy to gain power and can now be abandoned.

In other words, some of the negotiators are saying they lied in order to gain the agreement and to negotiate ‘the best Constitution in the world’. This is true of those whose lust for power overshadows their concern for the public they serve.
Why do we hear these ‘admissions’ 18 years after 1994? Everything around us under government control is breaking down.

The lights are being kept on by paying large industries to use less electricity and by blocking development projects, with high losses in jobs and economic growth. Many towns do not have clean water. The poor state of the railways interferes with exports and forces companies to use road transport, causing the roads to break up. Management of cities and towns is breaking down and many of them are bankrupt.

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Corruption is rife. Crime is out of control. Government hospitals and clinics are in a poor state. Schools are destroyed. The list goes on and on. Now we hear talk of a ‘second transition’. Politicians really know how to buy time and deflect attention from policy failure. What these statements are leading up to is predictable. Government needs someone to blame, and whites or colonialism provide convenient scapegoats.

One of the founding provisions of the Constitution, non-racialism, has been largely ignored in BEE legislation, government appointments, tender awards and elsewhere, to the detriment of the economy and good governance. Not selecting the best person for the job is as bad for the country now as it was under apartheid.

Constitutional protection
Blaming a particular sector of the population helps gather support for scrapping parts of the Constitution intended to prevent government from engaging in theft from the people. This would include actions such as taking farms from white farmers Mugabe-style and putting them in the hands of political cronies. Not only farm ownership, but all property ownership will be at risk if property rights protection is removed from the Constitution.

Communists believe, as I once did, that property and the means of production should be owned and controlled by the state.
When a tyrannical government has looted from others it will be your turn. And if you think that being a member of the central committee will keep your property safe, read about what happened to Stalin’s closest allies. It is up to the people of South Africa, and members of the ANC, to ensure that they protect everyone’s constitutional rights in order to protect their own. 

In my early years of rebelling against apartheid I believed that socialism was the route to freedom. Disenchantment set in when I realised that this philosophy is the siren song of those who seek power for the few over the many. Freedom does not come about because of what governments do but because of what they are prevented from doing.

My philosophical mentor was the remarkable Professor Walter E Williams. In a speech he gave while on a visit to South Africa, Prof Williams said: ‘The solution to South Africa’s problems is not special programmes, it’s not affirmative action, it’s not handouts, and it’s not welfare. It is freedom. Because if you look around the world for diverse people who have the ability to get along fairly well, you are also looking at a society where there are relatively large amounts of individual freedom’.

In his book South Africa’s War Against Capitalism (1989), Prof Williams had the following advice for South Africans: ‘Now – in order to promote tranquillity, dignity for the individual, and prosperity for all – South Africa’s people must strengthen their beleaguered market forces, and declare war against centralised government power’. It is the kind of individual freedom that Prof Williams writes about that we should be pursuing.

That is what I fought for and that is what most people in this country want. They do not want the enslavement of whites as we were enslaved. They, and I, want freedom for all. Freedom is indivisible; it is not possible to have freedom for some and not for others in the same country.

Source: Free Market Foundation. Visit

The views expressed in our weekly opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Farmer’s Weekly.