South Africa Gets Caught Up In The Partisan Divide

A few weeks ago, Trump caused a media furore when he tweeted that he was going to instruct his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into “land and farm seizures” and “the large-scale killing of farmers” in South Africa, seemingly after he had watched a segment the previous night on Tucker Carlson Tonight about Expropriation Without Compensation in South Africa.

The tweet immediately ignited a fierce partisan debate. Political figures from all over the world and opposite ends of the ideological spectrum weighed in on the subject, their opinions predictably biased by their pre-existing view of Trump, whether negative or positive.

And, sadly, as a result, much of the nuance in the discourse around EWC was lost. There is a more complex discussion going on in South Africa,  but much of that is unknown to international commentators who probably knew very little about SA politics before Trump’s rash tweet. Scrambling to appear knowledgeable on the subject, opponents of Trump leapt to glib defences of EWC as a good policy designed to correct past injustices in SA (there is, in fact, robust opposition to EWC by South Africans of all races and political persuasions) and his supporters were quick to characterise South Africa as just another hellish foreign shithole. Read More…

Undermining Property Rights Has Never Worked And Will Not Work

Last week the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation and announced that the ANC would be pressing ahead with the policy of expropriation without compensation. This would mean changing the South African constitution to allow the confiscation of private property without monetary restitution (EWC). It wasn’t an entirely shock move by Ramaphosa, he had been making statements to this effect for some time now. In June he said:

One of those is to expropriate without compensation to unlock the wealth of this land, which has been held in few hands from the days of colonialism. That alone should be able to add an injection to the growth of our country.”

Readers of Imagine Athena will not need convincing that undermining property rights is a disastrous move by the ANC and augurs ill for the South African economy. It has never worked and there are numerous historical examples of how disastrous it can be. What is the definition of madness again? Read More…

Don’t Blame Theresa May. Brexit Was Never Going To Be A Romantic Adventure

I haven’t written much about Brexit, lately. I’ve been adopting a wait and see approach.

I realised pretty quickly how technical and complex the process of exiting the European Union actually was and I thought it would be wise to read and learn from people who were experts in trade and regulation. Much of the discourse around Brexit focuses on ideological and theoretical matters, with the minutiae of actual EU legal code rarely discussed. Very few people are knowledgeable in such matters and we didn’t hear from them at all during the referendum campaign, which, in hindsight, was woefully short on substance. The single market and the customs union were hardly mentioned and Leave (with some exceptions) never put forward a model for leaving the EU. No one had any clear idea of what the UK would look like post-Brexit. It really was a leap in the dark. Read More…