South Africa : Britain’s Theresa May backs South Africa’s land reform policy

British Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa (right). Photo : RR

Casablanca (ADV) – British Prime Minister Theresa May says the UK supports President Cyril Ramaphosa’s approach to land reform and believes it could potentially unlock further investment opportunities in Africa.

May was addressing guests of the British High Commission in Cape Town on Tuesday, before meeting Ramaphosa at the Presidential Guest Tuynhuys, in South Africa.

“The UK has for some time now supported land reform that is legal and transparent and generated through a democratic process. I discussed it with President Ramaphosa during his visit to Britain earlier this year and will discuss it with him again later today,” she said.

“I welcome the comments that President Ramaphosa has already made, bearing in mind the economic and social aspects of it. I think he’s made some comments that it won’t be a smash and grab approach. I think there’s an opportunity to unlock investment.”

Last week, US President Donald Trump posted a controversial tweet on SA’s push to expropriate land without compensation. “I have asked Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers,” tweeted Trump. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.”

Responding to questions on the matter and whether expropriation without compensation could hurt SA’s efforts to attract foreign investment, May reiterated that the UK supported land reform that is “legal and transparent”. She said SA and the broader African continent offered significant opportunities for investors.

“I think there are real opportunities for the future. I brought a significant business delegation with me across a wide range of business activities from financial services to agriculture. Obviously we look across Africa … they are looking to invest [but] want to ensure that countries have that stable aspect investors are always looking for,” May said.

May also said she wanted the UK to overtake the US to become the G7’s biggest investor in Africa by 2022.

She promised to continue existing economic links based on the UK’s EU membership, including an EU-wide partnership with the Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique after Brexit next year.

Promising an extra £4bn in direct UK government investment, which she expects to be matched by the private sector ,she said while the UK could not match the “economic might” of some foreign investors – such as China or the US – it offered long-term opportunities of the “highest quality and breadth”
She defended the UK’s aid spending in Africa,saying it had “worked” to give millions of children and women an education and immunise millions against deadly diseases.

But she said she was “unashamed” that it had to work in the UK’s own interest and pledged a new approach in future, focusing on helping British private sector companies invest in fast-growing countries like Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal while “bolstering states under threat” from Islamist extremism such as Chad, Mali and Niger.

“True partnerships are not about one party doing unto another, but states, governments, businesses and individuals working together in a responsible way to achieve common goals,” she said.

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