Vivian A. Atud – The best way to promote individual freedom in South Africa

This is the essay and motivation contributed by Vivian A. Atud as her entry in the recent Freedomfest competition sponsored by Bob Glenister. This essay was one of the winning entries.

Simply put, individual freedom focuses on the fact that all values are human-centred, the individual is of supreme importance, and all individuals are morally equal. Individual freedom places great value on self-reliance, on privacy, and on mutual respect.The Interests of South Africans are best served by allowing every adult the maximum freedom and responsibility for choosing his objectives and the means for obtaining them. Therefore government should keep its interference in the lives of individuals at a minimum, confining itself largely to maintaining law and order, preventing individuals from interfering with others, and enforcing agreements (contracts) voluntarily arrived at and putting in place a property system according to which each person or family enjoys the maximum of opportunity to acquire property and to manage and dispose of it as he or they see fit.

In 1994, South Africa was characterised by a black[1] population that was, as a rule, poverty stricken and economically marginalised. Since the transition to democracy, the government has sort ways to rectify the skewed economical profile of South Africans. A vast body of legislation, policies and charters in various sectors of the economy have been introduced since 1994. Instruments such as the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 and the Broad-Based Black Empowerment Act 53 of 2003 as well as numerous other acts were introduced. However, it is not possible to have liberty for some and not for others in the same country. Whilst blacks were being oppressed by apartheid in South Africa, the liberty of whites was being compromised by the measures necessary to suppress the aspirations of their fellow citizens. For personal liberty to prevail, the law should treat everyone the same; that there is no liberty for one unless there is equality before the law for all.

Various opponents to the apartheid system agree that it was liberty for all that they fought for, not the opportunity to seek compensation for past wrongs, or to discriminate against any other racial or cultural group.For individual freedom to be promoted in South Africa- the government must focus on its primary role which is to protect the freedom of individuals within human society. Belief that government should provide is the beginning of ‘The Road to Serfdom’ (Friedrich von Hayek).

Personal freedom and South Africa’s challenges will not be overcome by government providing handouts to the poor, or implementing socially divisive racial quotas disguised as ‘demographic representivity. They will be overcome when citizens, protected by government from force and fraud, can freely engage in uncoerced and voluntary exchanges. Once this happens, South Africa will develop, and all of its people will benefit.

Secondly, the promotion of information freedom is at the core of promoting individual freedom: it increases the range of things that individuals can do for and by themselves.  The networked information economy provides alternatives to the sources of information. Finally, the internet increases the range and diversity of information available to individuals.


[1] The broad definition of blacks includes Indians and Coloureds.

Why I should be sent to FreedomFest
Vivian Atud

Economist/ Researcher free Market Foundation

My objective to attend FreedomFest is to contribute to the ongoing research and discussion on the topic of personal freedom, and to empower myself to advocate for personal freedom in South Africa, starting especially with the student community. To focus on the university student community is critical if advocacy for personal freedom in South Africa is to succeed.

Out of our universities come both the business and political leaders of tomorrow. Their understanding of the implications of human actions on the progress or failure of the economy will determine the economic future of South Africa. In this current age of ‘exploding’ government, more than ever, African economies and especially South Africa needs citizens who are more than just leaders. They need citizens who can make sense of economic dynamics, who can explain why some economies prosper and others do not, who are innovative, creative. They need to be agents for change due to a new paradigm shift in the way countries should be run to ensure that governments are limited. This challenge can be boldly faced by applying the principles of individual freedoms in the management of South Africa.

I am an agent for change. I want to be involved in facilitating and shaping the paradigm of the new South Africa not based on retribution, redistribution or correction of the past ill with growth and development resulting from a sound understanding of individual freedoms and every individual taking responsibility for their actions.
My interest in advocating for individual freedom piqued during my internship and work for the Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa. I have always had a desire for learning and exploring and trying to act in a way that can improve me. I started ‘trading’ at the tender age of 9, starting with capital of about R10.00 in today’s terms. I bought and sold paraffin in my rural community to generate money that was critical in my getting access to secondary and university education.  The FreedomFest conference gives me a perfect opportunity to acquire greater skill to analyse what threatens freedom in Africa and to contribute even more meaningfully to the promotion of personal freedom.
My research interest centers on promoting black advancement, especially in South Africa where many have been convinced that only government Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment policies can result in blacks realizing their full potential. I have written several articles and a book chapter on how black South Africans are advancing by taking control of their lives. Many of these articles have been published both locally and internationally.

I am a disciplined and results-oriented individual who likes to stay focused on task until the job is done. I have carefully researched the FreedomFest program and I am certain I will gain the knowledge I need to help my development to become an even greater advocate for personal freedom in Africa.

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  1. #1 by kenneth kopase/Koketso Sebolai on April 1, 2013 - 10:06 am

    Kenneth Kopase and Koketso Sebolai are planning and organising a Libertarian legends awards any one with ideas suggestions may e-mail.

    The purpose of this awards is to honour our legends and acknowledge their contrubutions to all sectors of society locally and internationally..

    And not do it when they are no longer with us.


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