President Cyril Ramaphosa invoked the management style of Nelson Mandela on Sunday evening when speaking of how the state would manage land reform, saying the matter needed to be addressed for SA to move forward.
Ramaphosa was a guest at the Gauteng Conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.
During a discussion about the state of the economy with Investec’s Stephen Koseff, Ramaphosa said the process of speeding up land reform would be well-managed. He also backed Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, saying it was the task of South Africans to “support and defend” him.
“We are going to manage this [land reform] very well,” Ramaphosa said. “As I often say, we were taught to manage things by a great man. Nelson Mandela taught us good lessons, and for me I learned a lot of what I am doing now at his feet. I spent a great deal of time listening to Nelson Mandela crafting my own political acumen around Nelson Mandela’s values, principles and integrity.
“That is going to continue standing many of us in good stead, because a number of the leaders in the ANC … have [also] modelled themselves around the values that Nelson Mandela taught us.”
Ramaphosa said that 24 years after the first democratic elections, many South Africans were excluded from meaningful participation in the economy and addressing unequal land distribution was needed to move the country forward.
“There was never a [similar] moment when the nation was in conversation on a particular issue in recent years – the [last] time was when we drafted our Constitution. Many South Africans are excluded from meaningful land ownership, land tilling and all that, and we have got to find a solution. And a solution is about to be found.”
Ramaphosa said accelerated land reform would help grow the economy.
“I can assure you that the solution that will come forth – in my book, it is going to be a solution that enhances the economic situation of our country, it will not harm agricultural production, it would actually be a solution that I would like to see enhance the economic growth of our country.
He told the audience that there would not be any “marauding mobs going around taking people’s properties and grabbing land”.
“That is never going to happen. That is going to be prevented and I will not allow that to happen at all costs.”
Ramaphosa was speaking a day after rating agency S&P Global said that South Africa’s policy of land reform, which includes expropriation without compensation, would not “significantly hamper levels of investment flowing into South Africa”.
S&P, which kept SA’s sovereign credit rating unchanged at below investment grade, said SA had strong checks and balances, including a constitutionally independent judiciary.
But it said it would consider downgrading SA’s credit rating further if the rule of law, property rights, or enforcement of contracts were to “weaken significantly”.