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24 Aug 2018 00:00
Progress means avoiding the trap of assuming ‘our’ worst fears are ‘their’ intentions, writes Brian Whittaker. (Madelene Cronje/M&G)
Roger Fisher and William Ury point out in their 1991 book Getting to Yes that “people tend to assume that whatever they fear, the other side intends to do”. The president announces that the ANC has decided that section 25 of the Constitution must be amended to make the possibility of land expropriation without compensation more explicit.
Many of those who fear this assume that a wholesale raid on private property is intended and that, without secure property rights, the financial system will be at risk and individual liberty may be undermined.
Now the president has to balance the equation: to honour the commitment to accelerate land reform and to attract investment, expand the economy, create jobs and build a more cohesive society.
It can’t be done, some would say. But perhaps it can, if certain conditions are met.
First, expropriation without compensation will require careful management by the state. It will need to:
How might this play into land reform in South Africa and the building of a more cohesive society?
In 2016 a diverse group of South Africans was convened to think about the future of land reform. Four “land reform futures” scenarios were developed:
Earlier this year a further set of scenarios was produced for South Africa 2030. Centred on the key question of social cohesion, the Indlulamithi South Africa Scenarios 2030 try, like the giraffe after which they were named, to see above the trees and ask what the prospects are that by 2030 South Africans will be more conscious of what they have in common instead of their differences. Three possibilities were considered:
These scenarios were produced by teams using different methodologies and for different purposes. But the underlying themes resonate and point toward what will be required to meet the land reform challenge in a way that builds a more cohesive society.
They consider the consequences of maintaining a broadly democratic constitutional framework for problem-solving, or giving up on that and resorting to extralegal means. They point to the possibility of social compacts and the bargaining and compromise that these will require.
All imply that progress means avoiding the trap of assuming “our” worst fears are “their” intentions.
If we can heed that advice in the way we tackle land reform, we will have not only a viable land reform programme but also a more cohesive society. — Brian Whittaker,director of the Vumelana Advisory Fund, convenor of the Land Reform Futures scenarios team and a core participant in the Indlulamithi South Africa Scenarios
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