Strip the emotion out of land reform, says Investec's Jeremy Gardiner

Land reform (Photo: iStock)
Land reform (Photo: iStock)

Most land invasions in South Africa at the moment seem to be urban, not rural, Jeremy Gardiner, a director at Investec Asset Management, said on Wednesday.

He was one of the opening speakers at the annual congress of the SA Council of Shopping Centres taking place in Durban this week.

"We must strip the emotion out of land reform. Even Trevor Manuel said that communicating the land debate to investors has been a big challenge," said Gardiner.

He sees land reform as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s biggest challenge. Yet he noted that the government owns "masses of land" in every municipality, which could be put to use for land reform. The same goes for the state property portfolio of about 93 000 buildings.

"The markets expect a sensible approach from us on land reform. Whether we can implement solutions on land, however, remains to be seen," he said.

Give Ramaphosa more time

Gardiner argues that where South Africa seemed to be "with Russia" under former president Jacob Zuma, the country has moved to being "with China" now that President Cyril Ramaphosa is at the helm.

"We just need to give President Ramaphosa a bit more time. The good news is we are heading in the right direction as a country and every day we are making progress," said Gardiner.

"I know one sees a lot of emigration from SA currently, but there would have been much more if state capture had remained intact."

At the same time, he is concerned about what he calls "a lot of investor-unfriendly rhetoric being thrown around", especially ahead of the national election.

"Beware of those wanting to discredit Pravin Gordhan and Cyril Ramaphosa. We should appreciate and protect the press freedom we still have in SA. Journalists are critical in keeping the system clean," he said.

"Some say Ramaphosa is not up to the task, but remember December’s ANC elective outcome was a compromise solution... Ramaphosa has people actively working against him. It will improve after the elections, if he gets a proper mandate."

In Gardiner’s view, there is no shortage of money in SA, it just needs to be spent better.

"The world wants SA to work as a country. We must just put together solid policies and start doing the right thing," he said.

  • Fin24 is a guest of the SACSC at its congress.

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