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.
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.