LETTER: President evasive on land issue in Davos

DURBAN – Some might applaud President Cyril Ramaphosa’s performance in Davos as providing an honest perspective on the hindrances to growth and investment in South Africa. This would be generous. The president’s message on property rights was an exercise in evasion and deflection.

In his briefing on the “land issue” he avoided any mention of a key concern: this is not “land reform”, but expropriation without compensation (EWC). This is a major deterrent for investment, which the government’s own investment envoys have confirmed. We have seen concerning moves towards implementing EWC.

The Expropriation Bill does not – as the president implied – identify instances where land may be expropriated. It provides examples of land that may be taken without compensation.

Nor can intrusion into property rights be expected to be limited to land. The ANC’s election manifesto commits to an economic path that current fiscal resources cannot underwrite. Hence, “prescribed assets” – requiring portions of people’s saving and pensions to be directed to government-approved investments.

The president may have put forward a benign picture, but unless counter-productive policy is rejected, SA’s prospects remain bleak.


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