EWC enshrines theft on a national basis; it can’t be allowed – Bernard Tuffin

Bernard Tuffin of Family Action South Africa joined the BizNews Power Hour to discuss Expropriation without Compensation (EWC) and land reform. According to its website, Family South Africa is “an organisation of lay Catholics concerned about the moral crisis shaking the foundations of our societies.” Tuffin explains why this nonprofit – which draws inspiration from the doctrines of the Catholic Church – is concerned about EWC and why the terms ‘EWC’ and ‘custodianship’ should have us all shaking in our boots. – Claire Badenhorst

Bernard Tuffin on Family South Africa and its interest in EWC:

The organisation was founded with the idea of defending the family institution, the mother cell of society, the most important institution for the preservation of civilisation and societal norms, good behaviour, uprightness, etc., and the organisation and its writings and all our works are underpinned by a Catholic ethos, certainly.

In essence, our organisation is a broad platform to deal and comment on most things affecting our country, the future, the world, the church, etc., so we would obviously see things like private property and the notion of the abolition of property very much in a religious sense, very much a religious and moral issue. Two of the commandments deal directly with property – thou shalt not steal [and] thou shalt not covet the neighbour’s goods. So it’s very much within our domain to discuss these issues and their ramifications for society at large, for the family institution, and for all the things we hold dear.

On how EWC goes against the Ten Commandments:

Well, essentially, the great danger that we [are] facing in the country is the enshrining of things within a Constitution, principles, which are not easy to retract upon, and obviously those can be drawn out. So in establishing EWC as a policy in the Constitution, it enshrines, in a sense, theft on a national basis, almost an institutionalised theft. It simply cannot be allowed. It’s simply unnecessary. We don’t need that in the country. And the ramifications in terms of whoever might be empowered [at] any particular point – a hostile government or whoever – can play on a principle like that and really extract the worst possible scenarios out of it.

On the ANC and EFF falling out over the proposed changes to the Constitution:

Essentially, I think a lot of that is much more for public display rather than for any inherent differences in opinion on the ground or in the actual wording of the document. If one looks at it in the actual wording, it’s not substantially different from what either party has put forward through this entire debate process. So I would frankly be very surprised if the EFF did not back that amendment in parliament when it comes up for debate, and when the actual legislation is put forward, to give meat to this constitutional amendment that the radical proposals which have been mooted here and there from all parties would not actually be fulfilled and take root. So I think it’s much more – if we may use the sort of terminology which is somewhat outdated in our world today – ‘psy-war’, psychological warfare that’s played out to perhaps make people feel a little bit more comfortable. People are desperate almost to not be upset in their comfort zones and to see little signs of optimism or perhaps retreat from radical proposals, etc. I think that it plays much more into that scenario than any actual fundamental disagreements.

On documentation that he’s been putting together on EWC: 

I’ve tried to put together a document that encapsulates the entire process of what this reform would entail. I found myself a little while ago battling to actually put it into perspective and to understand what custodianship would mean in practice and what EWC would mean in practice. And therefore, I tried to put together an article that encompasses much of what has been said and done over the last couple of years, right from the beginning of this process when the resolution was adopted in parliament in 2018, specifically put forward by the EFF – the proposal which had actually been rejected by the governing party the year before.

The idea is then to really awaken, let’s say awareness and concern in the country as to actually what these concepts are. I find people pretty, almost ignorant really in a way or not wanting to really delve into them, not to apply their minds, to discuss, to think. So the idea is really just to try and create awareness of what our rights are, of what the potential catastrophe should be should the most radical consequences of that legislation play out. We have been given an idea of what the radical consequences of that legislation could be by the various utterances both by the EFF and the ANC.

I’m an ordinary South African. I love the country. I love our people. We have enormous human potential in this country. We could change the face of Africa, the face of the world with the beauty of the soul of South Africa and it just breaks my heart in seeing everything done in almost a wrong way and so many actions that could be done, not done, and us almost pursuing inexorably every wrong path that can be pursued to shipwreck the beautiful vision that we have, those of goodwill in our country for its future.

On the worst-case scenario for what has been proposed: 

It’s difficult to say because obviously legislation needs to be enacted, which will, so to speak, give meat to the principle enshrined in the Constitution. Who knows. One can only hope and pray that it doesn’t become some sort of generalised takeover of lands. You know, there was a very interesting article written recently by Trevor Manuel in which he outlined that the whole process of land reform in the country was proceeding generally according to plan and according to the current projected goals of the government and that, in fact, what is being pushed now is actually unnecessary. We don’t need these extra bits of EWC. They’re unnecessary to bring about what can be brought about with the existing legislation and existing goodwill in the country for that matter.

When this whole resolution was originally mooted and when the whole process was released for public comment and for all the proposals that would be put forward, the word ‘custodianship’ didn’t feature. It was not part of the general change in the Constitution, but it’s always featured in the EFF terminology and goals for the country, which are disturbing. That one could then see that in a way, the government has taken parts of the program and goals of the EFF and adopted them and introduced that word, which is somewhat nebulous and somewhat open to a lot of stretch and elasticity and discussion.

We have been given enough indication by the EFF which said that custodianship would entail the end of private ownership and would involve the takeover of the state, so to speak, as landlords. Thereafter, people would have to hire factories and farms and homes, etc. on a revokable lease sort of basis. That’s the most radical, obviously, thing that would come out of all this, which please God, we never get to, because it will effectively presage the transfer of the entire landholding of the country into the hands of the government, which is a classic socialist-communist sort of principle. So by the grace of God, these things will not see their worst possible conjectures. But there has been sufficient information and sufficient conjectures put forward by people on the committee of the EFF and various commentators to indicate that is a possible way in which the country could go down the line.

On what can be done at this stage: 

At this stage, it’s very difficult to say because we’re quite far down the line in terms of, you know, how many times all this stuff has been put out for public comment and how big were the proposals of the inputs of people opposed to all this on really good grounds – economists, financial people – and yet, we [are] sort of proceeding down the same lines. So, moot point to be able to discuss how this could all be actually rolled back except to say, please, you know, by the grace of God and prayer and enough lobbying from important organisations, from business, from the agriculture bodies, which have already done a lot of that. Perhaps there would be some sense prevail even from overseas countries, foreign departments, presidents, whatever.

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