Is South Africa’s Future Expropriated?

ABSTRACT:

South Africa is facing a crossroads. Cyril Ramaphosa, a widely respected figure who participated in drafting the South African Constitution, has breathed new optimism into the national mood. His credentials as a trade unionist, negotiator, politician and businessman have convinced many that the country is in the hands of a leader who understands the needs of the population and business. However, deep structural problems continue to afflict the country and it is not certain whether South Africa will – or is in a position to – achieve the economic take-off that the country so desperately needs.

Indeed, it is by no means clear that South Africa will not choose to move in another direction altogether. In recent months, South Africa’s ruling party has declared its intention to introduce a policy of expropriation without compensation. This has unsettled and confused investors as well as business people generally. While phrased as ‘land reform’, its impact stands to be considerably greater. What land reform signifies may well have been misunderstood.

The Institute of Race Relations is one of South Africa’s oldest policy analysis bodies. Since 1929, it has striven to promote non-racialism, individual and societal freedom, and prosperity through a growing economy. Our analysis is widely sought by decision makers in politics, business and civil society. We have developed a comprehensive set of scenarios for South Africa over the next decade, and would like to present our analysis of recent developments (with an emphasis on property rights and the expropriation-without-compensation debate) within that framework. This analysis is critical not only for South Africans but also for other African countries where the question of land redistribution is at the core of foreign or local investment and economic rights.

ABOUT THE VISITING SPEAKER:

Terence Corrigan is a Project Manager at the Institute of Race Relations where he specialises in work on property rights, as well as land and mining policy. A native of KwaZulu-Natal, he is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg). He has held various positions at the IRR, South African Institute of International Affairs, SBP (formerly the Small Business Project) and the Gauteng Legislature – as well as having taught English in Taiwan. His interests include African governance, land and agrarian issues, political culture and political thought, corporate governance, enterprise and business policy.

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