The latest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by former ANC youth league president, Julius Malema, has stirred up controversy due to their call for nationalisation, expropriation and centralisation of assets such as land, buildings, mines and banks.
“The program that they laid out is really an assault, in my opinion, on the working people in South Africa and on the unemployed because it means they will have authentic wretchedness,” Tom Palmer, Executive Vice President of International Programmes at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation told CNBC Africa on Wednesday.
He believes that if the EFF were to be in power in South Africa, the country would fall into a true state of famine.
“By famine I don’t mean just a minor diminish in your wellbeing but real hunger and starvation,” said Palmer.
He explained that evidence of this is reflected in past events from across the world. Countries where nationalisation policies were implemented ultimately led to the death of millions of people.
“We’ve seen this over and over. Unfortunately the 20th century is littered with the corpses left behind by these kinds of policies,” indicated Palmer
“Look at China and its great leap forward. They had exactly this proposal for state led industrialisation and 44 million people died in that country between 1957 and 1961.”
Another example, he pointed out, is that of North and South Korea.
“South Korea has a private led economy that is open to world trade whereas North Korea is state managed, has no private property land and 2 million people died of hunger in the 1990's,” explained Palmer.
According to him, while the EFF are pushing for the nationalisation of land, people in South Africa and all over the world are consistently looking for and demanding private property rights.
“Go talk to landless people on the land, they don’t want to be part of some big communal system or the totalitarian allocation of land use rights which is discretionary and revocable,” said Palmer
What it would mean instead, he added, is that those that support the EFF would be allocated land while those that don’t support the party would most likely starve.
He also stated that the country could potentially face an economic collapse as investors, both local and international, begin pulling out of South Africa.
“Just take a very simple point, what is it that raises awareness and creates jobs? It’s capital investment that comes from domestic savings and foreign investment. People do not invest for the future if they fear confiscation, period,” he explained
“This is exactly the thing that scares foreign and domestic investors who are going to rather locate their capital abroad or consume it instead of setting it aside for long term investment.”
In order to avoid this, Palmer recommended that the country build strong communication with young South Africans and Africans as a whole so that they can prevent dictatorship parties such as the EFF and other parties across the continent from coming into power.
“I am much more bullish about Africa’s future overall because there is a young generation of people across the continent that has cell phone telephony and smart phones. They can see how the world works and don’t have to get filtered information from their leaders,” explained Palmer
“There is a big movement across Africa with hundreds of young Africans saying they want free markets and opportunities and don’t want to further enrich these cronies or strengthen their grip on power by giving them all these economic assets through the state,” he concluded.