Expropriation without compensation is a great idea as long as it happens to someone else.
That is one of the key findings of an opinion poll released on Wednesday by the Institute of Race Relations.
The poll‚ dubbed The Criterion Report‚ found that “support for expropriation without compensation collapses when [people] are asked whether the government should be able to take land they own themselves. Ninety% of voters are ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ opposed to this.”
The IRR questioned 978 people by telephone‚ and in its first set of results earlier this week it said the EFF had doubled its support to 13% while the ANC had dropped from 62% to 52%.
In the first of its quarterly surveys‚ the institute found that more than a quarter of voters (27%) have not even heard of expropriation without compensation.
Among those who had‚ 41% opposed it‚ 30% supported it‚ 51% believed an alternative should be found and 17% said no land reform was needed.
Gareth van Onselen‚ the head of politics and governance at the IRR‚ said there was a “stark disjuncture” between blacks and “minority” voters when they were asked about “taking land from whites without paying”. Some 37% of blacks but only 3% of whites backed the idea.
“However‚ there is stronger support across demographics for an alternative approach‚ either willing buyer-willing seller or the redistribution of government land.”
More than a third of black voters (37%) said all land should be owned by the government‚ compared with 9% of minority voters.
“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 compoensation‚” said Van Onselen.
The finding that 90% of voters opposed having their own land taken was “a significant insight. It suggests that those political parties which have a vested interest in countering the EFF’s narrative [that all land should be owned by the state] need to be able to demonstrate the practical implications of the policy for individuals.
“If they can do that‚ support for the policy falls dramatically. 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.”