‘South Africa is debating an amendment to permit the expropriation of private property without compensation. That would be disastrous for that economy and the South African people.’
Addis Ababa – Plans to redistribute private land in South Africa without compensation would be “disastrous,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday as he was wrapping up his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa.
“South Africa is debating an amendment to permit the expropriation of private property without compensation. That would be disastrous for that economy and the South African people,” Pompeo said in a policy speech in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Land is a highly sensitive issue in the country. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has promised land expropriation without compensation to address historical inequalities, but has stressed it will be done in a legal manner.
White South Africans – who make up less than 10 per cent of the population – still own most of the country’s land more than two decades after the end of the racist apartheid regime, which made it very difficult for the majority black population to own land.
A 2017 government audit showed white people still own 72 per cent of private commercial farms.
US President Donald Trump drew South Africa’s ire in 2018 when he waded into the racially charged land reform debate, instructing Pompeo at the time to look into “land seizures” from whites and what he falsely termed “the large-scale killing” of farmers.
The ANC announced in August 2018 that it was planning to change the constitution to allow the expropriation of private land without compensation. The parliamentary process is still under way.
Pompeo has visited Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia during his five-day stay in Africa.