What is the truth about land ownership?


We are unfortunately trapped in a society where lying has become the norm in many respects. When a lie is told enough, people start to believe it. They form perceptions around the lie and it then becomes society’s “new truth”.

One such lie concerns the history of land ownership, and this lie forms the foundation of the arguments of radical groups. Because different people have diverse, hard-to-reconcile value systems, it will be difficult to find common ground. The question is: What is the truth and how does one verify it?

It often works so that the victor writes the history, but it is outrageous to dish up something that is devoid of all truth because you want to prove something. A recorded history that historians wrote down in their own lifetime should carry more weight than something that is conjured up 300 years later without any supporting source documents.

Land ownership

The Western view of property rights is largely based on private property rights and is supported by a market-oriented economy that helps wealth creation. Within this culture there is accountability and a creative, future-oriented mindset of entrepreneurs who work hard for a better future. On the other hand, there are people who take no responsibility, who wait for tomorrow and blame others for their bad circumstances that do not improve. They wait and expect someone to create a better life for them. Meanwhile, the state taxes the wealth creators continuously through legislation so that their money can be used to empower others. Such an order is not sustainable.

Then there are also divergent views on land ownership and its history. The reasons for these different outlooks are legion. On the one hand, there are those who cherish the right to private land ownership and use land to create wealth. It requires hard work, expertise and accountability.

On the other side of history, clan chiefs in traditional areas (the former homelands) were the owners of land and their followers could only get usufructuary rights to land with the benevolent permission of the clan chief. No individual black person could therefore own their own private land. This approach is still reflected in rulings on land rights where the state (like the tribal chief) must own everything and decide who can do what with what land.


What exactly is prosperity? From a Western point of view, it is something that must be created by those (an entrepreneur) who see the “right” opportunities, and with continuous hard work, production factors (such as raw materials, capital and labor) are efficiently managed to become profitable. On the other hand, there is, for example, an ANC MP who revealed in a recent conversation that he had no idea that wealth was something that had to be created, but thought it just existed by itself. This is an embodiment of the view that people should wait for tomorrow, because it will be taken care of!

People who use their land properly have an opportunity to grow their business positively. Unfortunately, several small farmers today still depend on social grants to stay alive despite the hectares of land they sit with.

An example of someone who has accepted the responsibility of what it takes to be a successful farmer is a member of TLU SA who 27 years ago as a company representative rented four hectares of fallow land from a farmer and started a small farm . Currently, he provides work for approximately 100 people and his farming is worth approximately R300 million. He is one of the largest producers of three commodities that provide food to all the inhabitants of South Africa. The question is: What is the difference between this farmer and all the small farmers who have been sitting on around 4 hectares of land for years and still making no progress?

Today anyone in the country can buy any property. This means everyone can accumulate assets if they work for it. So what is meant by words like “inclusive”?

Complex history

The Khoi-San were the first inhabitants in Southern Africa. Different black tribes subsequently moved from the north of Africa to the south over time and settled in various places, each distinct peoples with their own authority. These tribes simply drove out and/or killed the Khoi-San and occupied the land.

White people also moved into the interior, but from the south, after the offended Jan van Riebeeck established a refreshment station which was the beginning of trade in the south of the country with the world. Many white people today can show various tracts and agreements as they tried to establish a peaceful coexistence with the various black tribes that lived scattered across Southern Africa.

When one talks about land ownership, the history surrounding the Difaqane cannot be concealed. It is easy today to say that other population groups are to blame for everything that has gone wrong in history. The reality is that no population group has a “clean” history from the point of view of other population groups.

Property right

With the adoption of a new Constitution in 1994, the agreement was that all the inhabitants of South Africa are equal and that everyone will have equal rights, but also equal responsibilities. Anyone is free to buy available property on the market, and there are quite a few. For that, the legal owner gets a title deed which the state honors. No one who has a title deed has stolen his land. TLU SA several years ago promised a R100 000 reward to anyone who could prove that any of our members had stolen his land. Our money is still safe in the bank.

Despite the large sums of money that the ANC government has already spent on land transfers with different programmes, they can prove little if any positive results. If all the people who got land thanks to these programs were indeed empowered, we should have had a thriving black commercial agricultural sector by now. There is a misperception about exactly what empowerment entails. The way in which people are so-called empowered is a hoax.

Of course there are success stories of several black entrepreneurs who bought land in their own right, but if people have to be recapitalized in the normal course of business, there must be something wrong with the model or the jockey.

Individuals or groups who today insist that land be returned to the so-called rightful owners are moving on thin ice. If the argument were to be valid, some of them themselves could have no claim to land, because white and black people are all second-generation residents in the country.

The future

People must realize that we are at a point in history where our country’s development or decline depends on us. We can all contribute to making tomorrow a better day. But apart from the fact that it requires a focus on the future and hard work, it also requires that you first put your hand in your own bosom before you blame something or someone for your personal poor circumstances. Start with yourself. We cannot do anything about the positive and negative things in our country’s history, but we can and must work on our future.

The residents of South Africa will have to come to the realization that the ANC government’s policy implementation negatively affects all of our futures. There is no problem that the residents are experiencing today that cannot be directly or indirectly linked to the current policy environment. People start protesting about service delivery on the first day after an election. All that will help is if every resident takes the responsibility for the future on themselves in all respects – also at the ballot box.