Land expropriations in SA would be disastrous, says US’ Mike Pompeo

Addis Ababa – Plans to redistribute private land in South Africa without compensation would be “disastrous,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday as he was wrapping up his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa.

“South Africa is debating an amendment to permit the expropriation of private property without compensation. That would be disastrous for that economy and the South African people,” Pompeo said in a policy speech in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Land is a highly sensitive issue in the country. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has promised land expropriation without compensation to address historical inequalities, but has stressed it will be done in a legal manner.

White South Africans – who make up less than 10 per cent of the population – still own most of the country’s land more than two decades after the end of the racist apartheid regime, which made it very difficult for the majority black population to own land.

A 2017 government audit showed white people still own 72 per cent of private commercial farms.