Nationalisation of land: Farmers are skeptical of Ramaphosa

Saai welcomes President Ramaphosa’s position that the ANC does not support the EFF’s ideals of nationalising land but believes that the hefty reaction from local business orientated groups and from aboard was not unfounded.

However, land-owners and especially farmers do not find the president’s words reassuring. South Africa has become used to the ANC’s way of sending up a kite to test the political climate on contentious issues, and then reeling it in and packing it away when the temperature gets too hot.

As such, the idea of disarming ordinary South Africans had already been mentioned by the ANC a few years ago, but after heavy outcry it was relegated to a general conversational direction within the ANC. Yet this agenda is now being driven strongly by the Minister of Police.

Three years ago, at the United Nations, the president denied the occurrence of farm murders. However, after wide negative reaction to this, he tried to convince the world that his government was earnestly attempting to do something about the alarming number of farm attacks. Given the absence of the implementation of a rural safety strategy as well as the disarmament of vulnerable farming families, most farmers are skeptical about the ANC’s commitment to what the president said.

This skepticism was mostly the result of an apparent absence of command and control systems in the government. If the ANC was really committed to the president’s point of view against the nationalisation of land, why would senior leaders in the party directly involved in the planned amendment of the Constitution be allowed to send out such a radically different point of view into the world? Why would the president allow this extent of uncertainty, the damage to investor confidence and reputational damage to his administration?

The same process was followed with plans to nationalise the Reserve Bank. It was hinted at and denied – until the ANC accepted a resolution in favour of the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank in Nasrec.

President Ramaphosa’s assurance that the nationalisation of land is not part of the appropriation without compensation platform, is purely the result of ongoing pressure from advocates of the free-market system and not from the ANC’s own conviction. For this reason, one cannot reduce pressure on the government to move into a more business and investor friendly direction.