Top US think tank warns SA on the path to Zimbabwe land disaster

'An attack on property rights will result in the destruction of South Africa’s farming community, dramatic reduction in agricultural productivity, and mass unemployment'

22 August 2018 - 12:04 By Staff Writer
People carrying South African flags gather during the Women’s Day march to the Union Buildings on August 9 2018 in Pretoria.
People carrying South African flags gather during the Women’s Day march to the Union Buildings on August 9 2018 in Pretoria.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu/Sowetan

A top US policy think tank has warned that South Africa is on the path to a Zimbabwe-style land disaster and has called on US President Donald Trump to take action.

An editorial on the think tank's web site by Marian L Tupy says: 

According to press reports, South Africa’s government has begun expropriating privately-owned farmland without financial compensation, thereby ignoring the post-apartheid political settlement, which allows for land redistribution in the country on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis.

Eighteen years ago, Zimbabwe embraced a similar policy. As a consequence, South Africa’s northern neighbor’s economy collapsed and the country descended into penury and political violence. This scenario is likely to repeat itself in South Africa. An attack on property rights will result in the destruction of South Africa’s farming community, dramatic reduction in agricultural productivity, and mass unemployment. It could also lead to a collapse of the banking sector (which depends on land as collateral for loan-making) and the local currency, hyperinflation, and even bloodshed.

Tupy said that the US "bears some responsibility for ensuring that South Africa’s post-apartheid political settlement, including protection of minorities and private property, endures."

The article comes as the ANC prepares to amend clause 25 of the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation following nation-wide hearings on land.

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced that the amendment would go ahead even though the constitution already allowed for expropriation because those who testified at the hearings had called for greater clarity.

Tupy wrote that South Africa's membership of AGOA - a trade arrangement with the US on favourable terms - was on the condition that it “protects private property rights, incorporates an open rules-based trading system, and minimizes government interference in the economy through measures such as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets; (b) [respects] the rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process, a fair trial, and equal protection under the law.”

He said that Trump could terminate SA's designation as an AGOA beneficiary.

"Considering that South Africa is in breach or is about to breach a number of requirements for membership of AGOA, the president should act by issuing a preemptive warning to the South African government."

Please sign in or register to comment.

X