• For ten years I have been doing ‘state of the nation’ breakfast presentations with Justice Malala in Johannesburg and Cape Town. We do them twice a year in each city.

    I would like to put my latest observations on South Africa’s future, which I shared with audiences last week, in the context of the ‘High Road/Low Road’ chart shown below. It was produced by the Anglo American scenario team in 1986.

    In retrospect, South Africa managed to take the High Road of negotiation in 1990 with the release of Nelson Mandela, and with the subsequent adoption of a new constitution which led to the general election in 1994. In the ensuing years of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki as leaders of the country, we continued along the same path at the top of the chart with fairly high economic growth rates.

    However, more recently, our economy has not performed for all the reasons we know about. We have followed the dotted line of descent entitled ‘Failure of Growth’ and have moved to the left with deep divisions among competing groups once again dominating our society.

    We are now approaching the very critical crossroads shown in the lower section of the chart. We either get out of trouble with strong leadership bordering on ‘authoritarian’ to revive the economy and promote unity of purpose; or we descend even further into outright conflict and possibly a ‘Waste Land’ devastated by civil war. It is as simple as that.

    Thus, Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascent to the presidency comes at a tipping point in the nation’s destiny. If he shows the positive qualities which I know he has from frequent meetings with him when he was the leader of the NUM, we have a chance of moving back once more to the High Road trajectory. If he is overwhelmed by internal divisions inside his own party, or by outside forces which render him powerless, the Low Road beckons with an extreme ending not to be dismissed.

    There are six flags to watch. The first is around corruption: will past perpetrators be pursued to ensure justice is seen to be done and will it be eliminated in future? Such has been the level of corruption that South Africa is now in danger of running out of money in addition to receiving junk status.

    The second flag is around improving the quality of our education system, health care and general infrastructure. No economy can grow fast without all three. The management of state owned enterprises has to be transformed for the better.

    The third flag is around style of leadership because winning nations are like winning soccer teams. People must feel they are on the same side even though they have differences of opinion. Nobody must feel excluded.

    The fourth flag is about pockets of excellence. South Africa has many and we should be replicating them instead of dumbing them down. Like soccer stars are essential to win championships, pockets of excellence ensure that a nation remains in the premier league of the global economy.

    The fifth flag which to me is the most important one of all is whether we open up our economy to achieve genuine economic freedom for all. We need an effective platform for the next generation of young entrepreneurs to launch themselves everywhere in the country. They are the ones who will be providing the millions of jobs required to get our unemployment rate down to single figures.

    The sixth and last flag is the one which in a worst case scenario can ignite a civil war and that is land reform. Reform has to happen but it must happen in a way that encourages enough goodwill on all sides to rule any form of conflict out.

    So what are the probabilities for the different paths represented on the chart? With the possibility of a new dawn arising from the new leadership, a return to the High Road with an economic growth rate of 5% per annum has increased to a 60% probability. The scenario of being stuck on the Low Road, depicted by the circle of economic stagnation in the middle of the chart and representing distribution without growth, is now assigned a 30% probability. That leaves a 10% probability of the wheels coming off altogether as we descend into the chaos of a failed state. Clem Sunter- 

    Watch the flags. They must turn green for a positive outcome. Otherwise prepare for the worst.

  • In an exercise to help potential investors make informed decisions in the midst of debate about expropriation of land without compensation, Statistics SA is going around the country to establish the size, structure and economic contribution of commercial farms.

  • Unequal access to land in South Africa continues to prevent citizens from enjoying human dignity, rights and security. The ongoing debates and recent public hearings about land reform policy in the country are therefore crucial from a justice and development perspective.

  • Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Patrice Motsepe says South African farmers, both black and white, need to be safe in the knowledge that their right to land and assets are protected.

  • TAU SA has taken note of media reports that the executive officer in the office of the valuer general has indicated that some properties belonging to the state and which could be utilised for land reform purposes, will not have any value at all.

  • The debate about the expropriation of white-owned land without compensation is about much more than the method of land reform.

  • Post-independence land restitution is a problem many African countries face. In South Africa, the Jacob Zuma-era governing African National Congress party took a decision to expropriate land without compensation.

  • The South African ruling party’s plans on land reform, which include expropriating land without compensation in certain circumstances, will ensure that property rights are safeguarded, its spokesman on the issue said.

    “This is not going to diminish or wipe out property rights,” Ronald Lamola, a member of the African National Congress’s National Executive Committee, said on Bloomberg TV Wednesday. “We’ve been very clear that we don’t want to” hurt confidence or collapse the economy, he said.

    Land Grab. More brilliant cartoon work available at www.zapiro.com.
    The ANC has called for changes to the constitution to clarify under which circumstances it can seize land without compensation to address racially skewed land-ownership patterns dating back to colonial and apartheid rule.

    Critics say it could erode property rights and fears of Zimbabwe-style land grabs have stoked investor concerns and helped weaken the rand. With general elections looming next year, President Cyril Ramaphosa has embraced expropriation without compensation, but insists there won’t be a state-sanctioned land grab.

    ‘Rule of Law’
    Land reform “will be done properly and through the rule of law,” Lamola said.

    Changing section 25 of the constitution isn’t the ANC’s only strategy to ensure land reform, Lamola said, adding that regardless of amendments, this law protects individual rights. The government is redrafting its Land Expropriation Bill that will define the circumstances under which land could be expropriated even if the move to change the constitution failed. The debate for constitutional changes will take time and is unlikely to be completed before the general elections, expected in about May. “I don’t see it being finished anytime soon,” he said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg offices.

    There is consensus on the need to distribute land to the country’s black majorityto change racially skewed ownership patterns, Lamola said. “It is not about driving people to the sea,” he said.

    AgriSA, the nation’s biggest farming industry lobby group, said in August it will go to the country’s highest court to protect property rights.

    South Africa’s farmers are among the world’s biggest white corn, table-grape and citrus-fruit exporters, and are the second-largest producers of a wool variety used in clothing. A 2017 state-commissioned land audit shows that a third of the country’s rural land is owned by individuals and 72 percent of that is in white hands. Companies and trusts hold 43 percent of rural land, and the race of their beneficiaries and owners is difficult to determine.

    The populist Economic Freedom Fighters party, which has won support from young voters in impoverished townships, supports the change and wants all land nationalised, which the ANC is against.

    “We don’t support blanket nationalisation,” Lamola said. CHRIS BATEMAN

  • Land prices are "broadly stable" despite uncertainty as the ruling ANC moves to change the constitution to expropriate land without compensation, the Banking Association of South Africa.

  • The Western Cape has the most lucrative agricultural economy in South Africa, but has not been able to transform in order to allow equitable black participation.

  • South Africa’s land expropriation debate continues to roil everyone from farmers to foreign investors and financial institutions. What has the government done to address land reform?  

  • South Africa and neighbouring Namibia met to share notes, best practice and common interest in rural development and land reform.

  • A plan to expropriate land without compensation will benefit a small number of citizens if successfully implemented but will be disastrous for most people if it goes awry, the Institute of Race Relations warned.

  • Earlier this year, Nick Serfontein wrote an open letter to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asking him to take the views of white farmers on board as the government considers expropriating land without compensation to reduce rural poverty.

  • American think-tank, the Cato Institute, recently published a warning of the possible effects that expropriating privately-owned farmland may have on South Africa.

  • An American research team set tongues wagging in South Africa this weekend when they called on South Africa to learn a lesson from the Robert Mugabe regime, in order to avoid becoming a “second Zimbabwe” when implementing land expropriation policies.

  • The government is open to negotiating with farm owners to find viable solutions to  land expropriation without compensation, says rural development & land reform minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. 

  • A final report on the land reform debate in South Africa is expected to be produced by Parliament come 15 November. However, seeing as the process has been dogged by delays and procedural missteps, South Africans shouldn’t hold their collective breaths. Whatever decision is made is likely to be highly controversial. But this below piece outlines some rational proposals to deal with land reform properly without wrecking the economy. –

  • Agri SA confirms its position that expropriation without compensation (EWC) will have dire socio-economic impacts. The danger of EWC is especially pertinent as the constitutional review committee (CRC) is expected to finalise their recommendation on the amendment of section 25 of the Constitution this week.

  • Agri SA will today roll out the next phase of its tactical plan against expropriation without compensation (EWC).