Sunday, December 10, 2017

Libertarian land reform in South Africa

Restoring Property Rights to Generational Apartheid Victims - Atlas Network:

"Maria Mothupi held the official deed to her land for the first time.... Until she was 99 years old, she had never experienced living in her own home or in a home legally owned by her family, because she was only two years old when the 1913 Land Act banned land ownership by black people in South Africa — a law that continues to have consequences today, despite its repeal more than two decades ago....

"This unlikely happy chapter toward the end of a hard life came about thanks to the Free Market Foundation (FMF) of South Africa’s Khaya Lam (My House) Land Reform project. FMF’s pilot project focused on the Ngwathe municipal area of the Free State province, where FMF Director Eustace Davie estimates that there are about 20,000 houses for which the ownership rights have not been documented and registered.

"The Khaya Lam project has already provided resources to carry out the conversion of some of these properties — out of an estimated 5 to 7 million that are eligible countrywide — to freehold title ownership.... Progress, however, has been slow.... Distrust, ambiguity, and prohibitive costs have all worked together to prevent a more rapid transfer of otherwise available titles. Through bulk processing and other cost reduction measures, FMF has reduced the cost from about $378 to $122 per title deed.

"The major purpose of the Ngwathe pilot project was to determine the most rapid and cost-efficient method of registering the rights of the homeowners and placing them in possession of title deeds that prove their rights and enable them to trade with their property legally, in any way they please.... More than 800 of the Ngwathe houses had either already been converted or were in the process of being converted by the end of October 2015, and by January 2016 FMF had 300 conversions sponsored in Cape Town and another 60 in the town of Grabouw.

"'Our task is to make everyone in the country aware of how the country will change for the better if we can extinguish the effects of one of the greatest crimes of apartheid: depriving black South Africans of property rights for 78 years,' Davie said. 'Calls for information are coming in from all over the country'....

"FMF is one of Atlas Network’s more-than-450 global partners working to restore and strengthen property rights.... Liberty Institute in New Delhi, India ... developed an innovative project that provides villagers with GPS devices and satellite mapping technology in order to prove their farming claims to the government and establish legal title to their own ancestral lands..... [I]in Honduras, where some believe uncertainty in property rights accounts for as much as 4 percent of their prohibitive loan interest rates, Atlas Network partner Fundación Eléutera has worked during the past year to help government leaders transform an ongoing and costly land titling digitalization effort by using blockchain technology....

"By protecting property rights, FMF through its Khaya Lam land titling project and these other projects by Atlas Network partners all strengthen individual liberty and prosperity."

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