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JOHANNESBURG — Following a similar initiative in Stellenbosch, the Free Market Foundation (FMF) is continuing its bid to get more title deeds in the hands of more South Africans. The hope is that wider property ownership will boost respect for private property rights while contributing towards the better long-term economic well-being of many South Africans. This time 52 people in the Free State town of Parys have benefited from the initiative. – Gareth van Zyl
From Free Market Foundation*
Today will see a further 52 tenants in Parys, Tumahole, become land owners in a ceremony presided over the Mayor Joey Mochela to mark the presentation of full freehold title deeds to residents who have lived as tenants in their own homes, sometimes for generations.
Fifty-two residents will enter the Town Hall as tenants and walk out as homeowners with full freehold title. For these citizens, this first step towards real economic empowerment is a life changing moment.
The title deeds being presented are the result of dedicated hard work between a non-partisan partnership of the Parys municipality mayor and officials, and the Free Market Foundation’s Khaya Lam (My Home) land reform project. The deeds are made possible through the generosity of business and individuals. Parys in Ngwathe, Free State, is where the initiative began and is perhaps the spiritual home of Khaya Lam.
For over 40 years the Free Market Foundation (FMF) has championed the cause of converting the various forms of apartheid title found in the townships to full, unambiguous ownership for the current tenants.
The FMF’s Khaya Lam (My Home) land reform initiative delivers real economic empowerment of home ownership to township residents deprived of their dignity and rights under apartheid by facilitating the conversion of council owned rental properties into freehold title – at no cost to the recipients or the local council.
The 1913 Natives Land Act prohibited black South Africans from owning land in so-called ‘white areas’ by restricting land ownership entirely to the ethnic authorities in the reserves, later known as homelands. Black people in the cities thus lived as tenants on property owned by the local municipality, which developed into what we know today as ‘townships’. Not much has changed.
FMF executive director Leon Louw said, “There is much angst in South Africa about inequality and the growing divide between the super rich and ordinary citizens. The real problem is lack of access to capital. For millions of South Africans a house is the only asset they will ever own, the only asset against which they can borrow money. It is lack of capital that is the greatest barrier to individual economic progress and prosperity. Khaya Lam addresses this problem directly by placing the means to access funds into the hands of those who need it most.”
Black land deprivation was probably the single worst element of the colonial and apartheid eras and little has changed since 1994. The FMF estimates that between 5 million and 7 million black and coloured families still live as tenants or without ownership rights in houses they have lived in for generations. There has been no systematic conversion of these ‘council owned’ and ‘traditional community’ properties to full, unrestricted ownership. This is dead capital that individuals and the economy desperately need.
Perry Feldman, Khaya Lam project manager and long time resident of Parys said, “Titling in South Africa is a painstaking process complicated by a lack of records of ownership and bureaucratic complexity. That municipalities and sponsors are willing to invest time and funds to achieve home ownership for disadvantaged communities is a testament to the goodwill and drive to right the evils of apartheid which are still evident in South African society today.”
The FMF’s Khaya Lam (My House) Project
The FMF’s pilot project, which began in the Free State’s Ngwathe, has seen 1,620 deeds transferred to unrestricted fully tradable title unlocking R162 million of “dead capital”. This simple act is transforming the lives of black families, many of whom have lived as tenants or with restricted ownership for generations. It gives access to previously locked dead capital and provides hundreds of very poor people their first step towards true economic freedom and economic prosperity. Many farmers in the Free State and elsewhere have committed to sponsoring title deeds as a means to reduce historical conflict between famers and workers living as tenants on their land. The FMF is creating a blue print to be replicated throughout South Africa.
- The FMF is an independent, non-profit, public benefit organisation, created in 1975 by pro-free market business and civil society national bodies to work for a non-racial, free and prosperous South Africa.
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