In Final Plea, Economists Implore South Africa to Abandon Expropriation Plan

By Martin van Staden It is now well-known that South Africa’s parliament intends to amend the Constitution to allow the government to expropriate (forcibly seize) private property without being required to pay compensation. On November 15, 2018, the parliamentary Constitutional Review Committee finally officialized this intention by formally recommending that the Constitution be changed. Less than a week later, on November 20 and 21, my employer, the Free Market Foundation (FMF), hosted a conference in Johannesburg that brought together 23 participants from around the world. Where governments have been allowed to seize property arbitrarily, economies have been left in ruins. The goal of the “Conference on Security of Property Rights” was to allow experts from Africa, Venezuela, India, and the United States to share with South Africa the invariably detrimental experiences that other countries have had with similar policies of expropriation without compensation. Of the 22 speakers, two were from Venezuela (via video), one from India, one from the US, five from Africa— representing Nigeria, Kenya, Burundi, and Ghana—and 14 from South Africa. All the speakers had the same story to tell: where governments have been allowed to seize property arbitrarily and without the necessary checks and balances (like being required to pay compensation), economies have been left in ruins. FMF director Temba Nolutshungu neatly summarized the conference in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGvaBiRv1Eo Below are all the other presentations: Leon Louw (Free Market Foundation, South Africa) Leon Louw, the Executive Director of the Free Market Foundation, criticized the basis of the expropriation narrative in South Africa, which came in the form of several “land audits” conducted by the government and by civil society organizations. These audits paint a picture of a small number of wealthy white landowners hogging up the vast majority of South Africa’s land. Louw questions the very premise upon …

Adventures in Uganda

By Marina Brierley Last February I had the privilege of attending a Liberty and Entrepreneurship camp in Uganda. Such an inspirational event – to meet so many ambitious, thoughtful young people interested and hungry for the ideas of Liberty. Many were from the University of Kisubi, near Kampala, where the event was held, but some from other Universities and a few even came from Kenya. Mugabi John Socrates (from ALED – Action for Liberty and Economic Development) and Adedayo Thomas were our dedicated hosts and organisers.   The Vice Chancellor welcomed us warmly, sympathetic to the ideas of freedom and prosperity that seemed to be popular in this successful private university. The theme of the ‘camp’ was “Free Enterprise and Morality” – so vital to show that there is an inherent link between both concepts. Talks by Andy on ‘Why freedom? Principles of the Free market’, ‘10 technologies that will change the world’ and ‘Essentials of Entrepreneurship’ were enthusiastically received. Adedayo spoke on ‘The Foundations of Africa’s Economy and political freedom’ with considerable passion and flair. I contributed with a talk on ‘Education in the developing world’ which led to some discussion on the situation in Uganda and concluded with a talk on ‘Human Progress’ showing the amazing achievements that have been accomplished in the world where-ever and whenever free trade and entrepreneurship were allowed to flourish.   Travelling around the country in the days prior to the camp (through Kampala and to Northern Uganda for a safari I could not resist) I had observed the land and its people. A congenial climate, fertile soil, in parts lush natural habitat but above all, a young, aspiring population eager to make their mark in the world. So much raw potential! Through discussion with new friends I learned that many had long since …

Minimum wage is an idea of megalomaniacal and uninformed politicians

BE AFRAID, be very afraid. SA has tumbled down the Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) index to its lowest level to date. During apartheid, black people were denied economic freedom. Now, everyone is. Do not let the fact that everything gets worse with declining economic freedom scare you. The problem is not that less freedom implies lower living standards, higher unemployment, widespread destitution, political instability, capital and skills flight, crime and corruption, and protests and unrest. These, fortunately, are easily reversed. All the government has to do is stop causing the problem. The frightening part is that they are unlikely to do so because of political madness and greed. When faced with crises, governments tend to panic and do more of what causes crises, instead of less. They feel a need to “do something” even though the problem is that they are doing too much. Instead of lifting us towards the world’s winning nations at the top of the index, they are driving us towards losers at the bottom. Our government is bigger, more intrusive and more expensive than ever. Yet it promises a greater role for government and spews regulatory diarrhoea. Our late lamented economic freedom has been the subject of so much media anguish during the past few days that repetition of only a few core facts is required. We fell from the top third (42nd out of 159 indexed countries) to the bottom third (105th) in 15 years. We used to have the freest African economy, now we are 13th. Our economic freedom declined while Africa’s, and the rest of the world’s, increased. Temba Nolutshungu of the Free Market Foundation points out that “according to research in peer-reviewed academic journals, people in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy greater prosperity, more political and civil …

Morocco Conference May 25 to May 28

This message from Li Schoolland gives the latest information about the upcoming conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, which is organized by the Arab Center for Scientific Research and Humane Studies. The conference is not organized by Liberty International, but we fully support their efforts. We are very eager to see you at the conference in Marrakesh from the evening of May 25 to May 28, an excellent and purposeful program “Peace Through Entrepreneurship,” hosted by the Arab Center for Scientific Research and Humane Studies. In addition to a line up of international speakers the Arab Center will be bringing 15 MENA (Middle East & North Africa) civic leaders and 50 participants from Morocco. As so much is being packed into the program, much of the benefit is from a community of minds in building personal and intellectual relationships that we think can change the world at this crucial time. A draft of the program with speakers and topics is available on the website of the Arab Center:http://arab-csr.org/2016/01/14/peace-through-entrepreneurship-conference/ The venue is Marrakesh, listed by Trip Advisor as the number one destination for travelers, so there is much to experience in Morocco. Accommodations are at the 5-star Les Jardins de l’Agdal. http://les-jardins-de-lagdal-hotel-spa.hotelinmarrakech.net/fr/  You are urged to register soon at: http://tftevents.com/morocco-event/, before the end of April so that a room can be reserved for you at the conference venue. Your early registration helps immensely in finalizing the program with Nouh el Harmouzi and his team at the Arab Center. If you are coming from a country that requires a visa, urgency is essential. For all of your questions please contact Nouh el Harmouzi as soon as possible: [email protected]

Morocco May 26 – 28: Peace Through Entrepreneurship Conference

TFTEvents and the Arab Center for Scientific Research and Humane Studies presents the Peace Through Entrepreneurship Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco.  The conference runs from May 26th – 28 and features many speakers from David Friedman, Tom Palmer, Dan Mitchell, Christpher Lingle, Ken Schoolland, and many more. Please note that the conference is not organized by the International Society for Individual Liberty.  But we champion the work of one of our valued members, Li Schoolland, organizer of TFTEvents, and of the conference in Morocco. To register for the conference, please click here.  

Sierra Leone Crisis Group Revisited

In a follow up on the tragic story of “The Ebola Tsunami in Sierra Leone: It Doesn’t Get Any Worse Than This,”  the saga continues in these reports of desperation and assistance. MUSTAPHA COLE “My name is Mustapha Cole. I am a Sierra Leonean by nationality and I am giving a report about the present situation in my country. Presently my sweet Sierra Leone is in a critical condition as many poor people are dying of this deadly virus called Ebola. Because of the problems here now, everyday people are dying from different diseases and sicknesses as well. We are looking for support to stop this virus. People are dying like flies every day while we sleep and when we are awake. “No school or college is going on. Children are now staying at home for 8 months now and we have many children who are now orphans as mothers and fathers become victims of this disease. Now there are 1300 children and more every day. The Ministry of Education has come up with a radio program to teach the children, but that most of the poor children cannot benefit from this because there are so few radios in the homes, especially in the rural areas. “So we need more radios for these children and we are going to pay the school fees when they open again. We are taking food to these people in quarantine villages every day. They cannot go to work or to the market so they are suffering without food and medicine. And we have a plan to take in children who have lost their parents and have no one to bring them up. We are in a serious condition and have no hope. “I did not know her well. We just go and drop food …

Free State farmers’ historic land reform plan to lift workers from generational poverty

An historic meeting took place at Weiveld Boerevereniging, Parys, on Friday 17 October 2014, when twenty four farmers agreed to pay R750,000 to a land reform project, that will assist their employees to become homeowners for the first time and see 406 houses converted to freehold. The ‘Khaya Lam’ land reform project has the backing of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the support of all political parties in Ngwathe. Driven by the Free Market Foundation (FMF) and initiated and led by Parys farmer and entrepreneur Perry Feldman, this project means that hundreds of poor and deprived families and individuals will get their first step towards true economic freedom and economic prosperity. Educating the new homeowners on how to manage their new asset is a vital part of the plan. Land reform is a highly emotive and increasingly political divisive issue, yet these Free State farmers, without political motive or public fanfare, are quietly helping local black citizens to get access to freehold title of the homes they currently occupy under Apartheid era regulations. This is a first in South Africa and stands as a prime example of what can be achieved if all parties involved are committed to the principle and ideal of full title for homeowners. Khaya Lam is a tangible and practical example of real ownership restoration in action. It is a blueprint which can be readily taken up and adopted throughout the country where poor families live in generational poverty, never having the means to access credit, finance and opportunities. A title deed is a profound game changer for millions of this country’s poorest citizens: it is a tangible asset against which they can borrow money, earn rental income and begin to change their family’s socioeconomic circumstances. It is a simple but profoundly effective plan. Feldman …

Ebola Tsunami in Sierra Leone: It doesn’t get any worse than this.

Meet Mustapha Cole of Sierra Leone. Four members of his family have just died of Ebola in the last couple weeks–his aunts, sister, and uncle. He buried three on October 5 and his uncle passed away just yesterday. His father, a sister, and one other relative remain with him in a small house that is short of food—very short of food. Everyone stays indoors as much as possible to avoid contact with others who may carry the Ebola virus—yet the pangs of hunger keep driving people to find nourishment that can make them strong enough to withstand illness. One family of 8 ventured from their home in desperation, but the food they found was spoiled and all of them died of poisoning. Mustapha is now living in a village of 20,000 people who are in a panic because 100 die every day. It isn’t just Ebola, but now people are increasingly vulnerable to malaria and cholera as well. The dead have been left in homes for three or four days so far—people are too afraid to touch them. This morning Mustapha found the body of Ibrahim, a truck pusher who earned $5 a day. He had been suffering for days from what he thought were cold symptoms and went to the hospital to be checked. He didn’t have enough money for treatment, but even if he did the remaining hospital staff were too afraid of Ebola to examine him. So many doctors and nurses have died that there are few left to look after the sick. Mustapha reports that the government has lost all credibility. The government stopped paying the staff so they went on strike. “People are dying like flies in the country. Many citizens lost all hope and trust. They are afraid to go to the hospitals. They …

Meeting the Cheetah Generation

“Music is Freedom” declared the lead singer of H_ART the Band—as they opened up the first East African Students for Liberty Regional Conference at the Catholic University in Nairobi, Kenya—welcoming in the 476 students who came from across the continent to learn more about liberty and student activism. The students came from countries such as Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, and even war torn South Sudan, eager to meet their Kenyan counterparts and learn how to expand the freedom movement across Africa. Starting off strong, the talks commenced with the subject of entrepreneurship, with Mike Rotich of the East Africa Policy Centre and David Muumbi of the Kenya Youth Business Trust elaborating on how entrepreneurship can pave a stronger future for Africa and how the students could pursue entrepreneurship in their own lives. This was followed by an open mic session where students already engaged in entrepreneurship were invited to share their experiences and to suggest what would be the most important political or social change to help entrepreneurs on the continent. Over a dozen students eagerly told their stories, concluding with statements that what Africa needed most was “free trade” or “an end to corruption”. In fact, there were so many in the audience that were already involved in businesses of their own that they had to limit the number that came up to speak. Apparently the students didn’t need to be told to become entrepreneurs, they were already taking action on their own! Indeed, entrepreneurship was the predominant theme throughout the conference. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a single word said so many times in a single day before. Thus it was no surprise that the star speaker at the event was the multi-millionaire legendary Kenyan industrialist Manu Chandaria, who challenged the students to reach their …

33,000 Cheers for Liberty in South Africa!

One hundred years after the 1913 Native Land Act was passed in South Africa, the first fully tradable title deeds were released to black home owners in the Ngwathe municipality in the Free State province. Initiated in 2010, the Free Market Foundation’s (FMF) Khaya Lam (my house) project serves to convert land currently held under a complex variety of restrictive tenures and titles to unambiguous, freely tradable ownership. Secure property rights represent one of the most important requirements for the protection of both economic freedom and civil liberties. The Ngwathe municipality prides itself on the extent to which it has implemented land transformation for black South Africans. Virtually all black-occupied land has been properly surveyed, included in town planning schemes, proclaimed, and registered in the deeds registry. The objective of the ambitious but achievable project is to have all lawfully held plots in South Africa upgraded to unambiguous, tradable and mortgageable ownership at no cost to the lawful residents In consultation with the FMF, the Ngwathe municipality has resolved to become the first urban area in South Africa where all land is privately held under full freehold title on the basis of complete equality between whites and blacks. The project is truly historic and has the potential to be the first ever large-scale substantive project to undo the land disempowerment of apartheid that is still endured by millions of South Africans. It will set a precedent for reform of its kind to continue in South Africa, in other developing countries, and perhaps even in developed countries. Most of all, it will unlock the economic potential of thousands of householders, opening the door for large-scale economic growth and liberating millions of individuals in the process. Hernando de Soto, said in his internationally best-selling book, The Mystery of Capital, that throughout the …