Cool heads, please: BUSA's Sipho Pityana on land expropriation

Business Unity South Africa President Sipho Pityana has called for "cool heads and pragmatism" in any changes that may follow a committee of Parliament’s decision to adopt a report that calls for amending the Constitution to specifically allow land expropriation without compensation.

Pityana, in a media statement, warned that the land issue ran the risk of being reduced to ideological wrangling that could polarise South African society ahead of a national election.

"South Africa must confront its past, which continues to stalk it through the land question. We call for cool heads and pragmatism, and an approach that does not undermine SA Inc’s economic fundamentals," he said. 

Pityana said BUSA endorsed the need to undo South Africa’s unjust land ownership and distribution patterns, pledging the formation’s support in addressing historical economic imbalances.

"We have just emerged from a trying period of political uncertainty that manifested in economic stagnation. As we confront the land question, BUSA calls for a unifying approach that will inspire confidence and solve the land question constructively," said Pityana. 

He said the business formation believed land should be addressed conclusively "in a fair, just, equitable and transparent manner".

The business body said property rights and land ownership were fundamental requirements that will help to ensure South Africa addresses its societal structural imbalances.

"However, BUSA notes that the issue is not confined to Section 25 of the Constitution – it is about how the entire edifice of the land reform programme has been a resounding disappointment to those intended to benefit from it," said BUSA in the statement.

Reaction to the resolution has been mixed thus far. On Thursday Agri SA said the resolution to adopt the report would damage the economy and deter investment, while the Banking Association of SA said property rights must be protected. 

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