I’ve recently seen TV footage taken at some of these hearings and none of the responses that I've heard from the various members of the audience have surprised me at all – those from the landless masses support “expropriation of land without compensation” and those who own land do not! That's perfectly logical, is it not?
Of course, if one were to be guided by the numbers of those at these hearings who are “for” "expropriation of land without compensation", and those who are not, the result would be a foregone conclusion - the "have-nots" far exceed the "haves" (in all countries!) and therefore the decision to go ahead with "expropriation of land without compensation" would certainly carry the day.
However, simply asking the public what they would want, is likely to get a flawed outcome – or, at the very least, an unaffordable one!
For example, why don’t we hold hearings as to whether the people want to do away with taxes (income tax, VAT etc)? The result of such hearings, if judged according to numbers, would most certainly be a resounding "yes" (to do away with taxes), but should the country take heed of such an opinion and scrap taxes? Clearly, not!!
And that is when responsible leadership (and the burden that goes with it) comes into play!
The majority of South Africans, who are by-and-large not that well-versed in the subjects of finance and economics, won’t understand that to take land away from citizens without paying them for it WILL BE the death-knell for the SA economy, i.e. it would chase away local and foreign investment, increase unemployment, reduce the amount of taxes collected (fewer employees and businesses to pay taxes) and would, very simply, collapse the South African economy!
Of equal concern is that such economic devastation could well be accompanied by widespread violence/civil war. Heaven help us were either, or both, of these to happen!
The country’s leadership must therefore weigh up the position and make a decision which is in the country’s long-term interest.
We should all know that “expropriation of land without compensation” would have disastrous consequences (for investment, jobs, tax revenues etc). However, the difficulty that our political leaders are going to have is to "sell" that to the masses who now have inflated expectations of being given land, having been fuelled by populist rhetoric and, of course, by attending or viewing (on TV) these open hearings on the subject ("why ask me my opinion if you're not prepared to take heed of it?").
There's no doubt that the right decision will be exceptionally unpopular with the masses – and certainly high risk for the ANC going into an election year (2019) – but the alternative, ie of expropriating land without compensation, would have an infinitely worse consequence for the country.