The Institute of Race Relations has published the findings of its latest survey, looking specifically at what the voting population thinks about the government’s plans for land redistribution without compensation, and what it means for private land ownership in South Africa.
The report comprises a two-part summary of the key political findings: Part A comprises an objective overview of the data and what it says. Part B comprises the IRR’s own analysis of the findings and what it believes are the key insights to be drawn from them.
The poll was conducted between 22 August 2018 and 4 September 2018 and canvassed just under 1,000 registered voters. It is fully demographically representative, the IRR stated.
According to the results, a significant portion of the population believes that land redistribution without compensation is the way to go in South Africa – but it’s certainly not a majority view.
The survey results showed that 27% of all voters have not even heard of the idea, and, of the 73% who have, only 30% ‘Somewhat’ or ‘Strongly’ support the policy (25% ‘Strongly’ support it).
The proportion that support it is higher among black voters (35%), while opposition to the idea among minority voters is exceedingly high, with 69% saying they ‘Somewhat’ or ‘Strongly’ oppose
“In short, the majority of all voters, across a range of questions on land, either do not support the policy – choosing instead to support private property rights – or support alternative reform policies to expropriation without compensation,” the IRR said.
Regarding alternative policies, a minority of 30% of all voters support “taking land from whites without paying” (37% among black voters).
Most voters and the vast majority of minority voters, however, agree with a different approach – continuing with willing buyer-willing seller or redistributing government land. 15% of all voters believe there is no need for land reform at all.
What it means for private property rights
According to the IRR a key finding from the survey is that, when the policy of expropriation without compensation is put to respondents as a practical consequence for their own private property, support for the policy collapses.
Whereas 31% of all voters (and 37% of black voters) agree with the statement that “All land in South Africa should be owned by the government on behalf of the people”, when asked whether respondents support or oppose government taking their own land, 90% of all voters (and 87% of black voters) opposed the idea.
“The poll suggests that those who support the policy of expropriation without compensation do so only when it applies to other people; when it is applied to them, they reject it,” the IRR said.
The group suggested that opposition parties looking to counter the EFF’s notion that government should nationalise all the land in South Africa should just practically demonstrate how such a policy would affect their own claim to private ownership of land, and support would dissolve.
“31% of voters might be favourable to the abstract idea of expropriation without compensation, but when it is brought home in real terms – when the implications for their own property is explained – it is rejected,” the group said.