The United States Bill of Rights, which came into effect on December 15, 1791, protects property rights and so does our Constitution.   Property is not confined to physical entities, such as real property, but includes personal property, private property, public property and  intellectual property.   See below for the definition in Wikipedia.  Frans Cronje, deputy CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations and its unit for risk analysis, article Land reform: ‘Green monster’ could wreck private property rights in SA was first published in Business Day today and is worth reading.

Four policy proposals

He mentions four policy proposals that need to be carefully considered and it is recommended that the entire articles should be viewed or downloaded by clicking on the heading to the article of going to Business Day.

  • Land owned by the state is to be available only on leasehold.
  • Land owned by private individuals remains in private hands subject to one important condition.
  • Land held by foreigners.
  • Establishment of a bureaucratic instrument called the “land management commission”.

Courtesy of Business Day here are some extracts from the article.

Leaked green paper

THE leaked green paper on land reform, read with the president’s recent comments on the subject, suggests the government is contemplating four big policy shifts related to property rights.     These will deter both growth and investment.

Last year, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform compiled a draft green paper on land reform.     Draft two of that paper was leaked extensively.     Our reading of the paper was that its provisions would seriously erode property rights.

The government subsequently missed its own deadlines to publish the paper.     To some this suggested that the government was concerned at the damage that the paper could do to investor sentiment.

President Zuma speaks to COSATU

Speaking to the Congress of South African Trade Unions this week, President Jacob Zuma revealed some of the likely contents of his government’s amended land reform policy when it is finally published.     What he revealed was not materially different to that contained in the leaked document.

Four policy proposals

Reading both the leaked document and Zuma’s comments it appears that four policy proposals are in the offing.     Each of these could severely damage property rights.     Collectively they could damage investor sentiment and curb economic growth.

Nationalisation of great swathes of land

It remains to be seen how far the government is prepared to go to change that balance.     From what we have read in the leaked green paper and now heard the president say, it would appear as if they are considering nationalising great swathes of the country’s land.

In a broader policy environment that has seen threats to nationalise mines and banks and which saw no fewer than three Cabinet ministers jeopardise Walmart’s investment in SA, this is clearly the wrong thing for the government to be doing.

Discouraging foreign investment

The impression is unmistakable that the government is either not serious about attracting investment or is unaware of the damage that its actions and statements are doing to investor sentiment.

According to Wikipedia

“Property is any physical or intangible entity that is owned by a person or jointly by a group of people.   Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property has the right to consume, sell, rent, mortgage, transfer, exchange or destroy it, or to exclude others from doing these things.[1][2][3] Important widely recognized types of property include real property (the combination of land and any improvements to or on the land), personal property (physical possessions belonging to a person), private property (property owned by legal persons or business entities), public property (state owned or publicly owned and available possessions) and intellectual property (exclusive rights over artistic creations, inventions, etc.), although the latter is not always as widely recognized or enforced.[4] A title, or a right of ownership, establishes the relation between the property and other persons, assuring the owner the right to dispose of the property as the owner sees fit.   Some philosophers assert that property rights arise from social convention.   Others find origins for them in morality or natural law”.