Business Unity SA urges urgent dialogue on land reform

Cape Town - Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) on Thursday expressed serious concern that the ANC’s land reform decisions would result in policy uncertainty and a negative socio-economic impact - particularly undesirable in the current economic climate.

BUSA said the intention to initiate amendments to the Constitution of South Africa, when the existing provisions in Article 25 had not been implemented, was unwarranted. It will seek an urgent meeting with the ANC leadership to obtain clarity on this matter.

Article 25 of the Constitution provides for the expropriation of land that is compensated in a “just and equitable” manner. Article 25 further recognises the need to redress the historical injustices in the process of addressing land restitution.

The business lobby reacted to the announcement late on Wednesday that the ANC has resolved to amend the Constitution to achieve land expropriation without compensation.

Cyril Ramaphosa in his maiden speech as newly elected ANC president, committed to land expropriation without compensation, provided it doesn’t undermine the economy and impact on food production and security.

He said the conference "overwhelmingly" and "unanimously agreed" that the expropriation of land without compensation should be among the mechanisms available to government to give effect to the  redistribution of land.

Ramaphosa referred to the 1913 Land Act - which reserved just 8% of land for black people - in his speech.

“The issue of land has been a matter of great concern to our people whose land was forcibly taken away from them. It is a matter that has caused a great deal of pain and hardship and resulted in the poverty that we see in our nation today," he said.

Ramaphosa’s "New Deal" economic plan promised to speed up land reform and farm worker tenure, but fell short of advocating for expropriation of land without compensation.

BUSA said the issue of land reform is complex.

"The pace and depth of transformation have been patently insufficient – this needs to be comprehensively addressed. At the same time we need to build confidence so as to stimulate investment and production in the agricultural sector as a critical part of a diverse, inclusive and globally competitive economy,” BUSA CEO Tanya Cohen said in the statement. 

She said BUSA views land restitution as an important instrument for fostering economic growth and black economic transformation.

The acceleration of land redistribution needs to balance the urgency of social redress with sustainable land usage and food security, BUSA said. 

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