Cyril Ramaphosa climate change South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Photo: GCIS / Flickr

Land expropriation latest: Ramaphosa accused of flip-flopping on issue

DA leader John Steenhuisen said on Sunday that Ramaphosa offers different views on land expropriation to the public and private sector.

Cyril Ramaphosa climate change South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Photo: GCIS / Flickr

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen has lashed out at President Cyril Ramaphosa over his alleged flip-flopping on issues relating to expropriation without compensation (EWC), saying that Ramaphosa must urgently clarify the African National Congress’ (ANC’s) position. 

Ramaphosa urged to clarify position on expropriation without compensation  

In a statement released on Sunday 6 June, Steenhuisen charged that the ANC “speaks from all sides of the mouth on the matter of expropriation without compensation, depending on the audience”.

“On the one hand, we have the ANC this week in the ad hoc committee agreeing with the [Economic Freedom Fighters] EFF that the draft bill (to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation) should be revised to enable ‘state custodianship’ over land,” he said, claiming that this measure constitutes “nationalisation by stealth”. 

He said that a 2013 Constitutional Court judgement on this matter confirmed that custodianship does not imply compensation, as is the foundation of the EFF’s claim. 

“Crucially, the matter of expropriation may start with land, but there is nothing in the wording of the amendment bill to suggest it won’t soon extend to other types of property,” he said. 

“Also, this revision diminishes the role of the courts, which at least offer some form of protection against deprivation of one’s property and against power abuse by the executive.”

Xaba comments ‘unhelpful’  

Steenhuisen said that Ramaphosa changes his tune when discussing the very same matter with members of the private sector, leading to confusion over the ruling party’s actual view on the controversial issue. 

“On the other hand, we have President Ramaphosa in soothing tones reassuring the business community and investors that this kind of expropriation will not happen, and that EWC will be undertaken in such a way that it does no harm to the economy and food security” he said. 

Steenhuisen added that comments from the ANC’s Vuzumusi Xaba trying to allay concerns by speaking of ‘temporary custodianship’ that will apply only in the ‘period between acquisition and redistribution’ are equally unhelpful. 

“Already, land acquired for redistribution is being retained by the state and merely long-leased to land reform beneficiaries. So no one should be reassured by this notion of ‘temporary custodianship’,” he said. 

Expropriation talk ‘has turned SA into investment desert’  

According to Steenhuisen, expropriation without compensation will “damage South Africa’s economy much more than COVID-19”, and said that “even flirting with the idea of EWC has already cost our economy dearly”. He pointed out that the value of South Africa’s financial sector has dropped by a third since Ramaphosa’s first EWC announcement in 2018. 

“South Africa is now the only sizeable emerging market country with net outflows of foreign direct investment. Foreign direct investment fell 46% in SA in 2020 compared with only 11% for Sub-Saharan Africa has a whole,” he said. 

“Just the talk of EWC has already turned SA into an investment desert, irrigated only by a jobs bloodbath.” 

He charged that the ANC would have South Africa believe that its pursuit of EWC is motivated by the need for social justice, but said that this is not the case. 

“Nothing could be more socially unjust than taking South Africa down the path that Zimbabwe and Venezuela have already travelled, in the ANC’s pursuit of populism to keep its patronage networks flowing.”