Steyl said taking land without compensation would be disastrous and would prompt investors and foreign institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to turn their back on Africa’s most developed economy.
“That would be blind stupidity. It’s possible you will never recover,” Steyl said. “I know there are huge problems with unemployment in South Africa. Everyone needs to come to the table to negotiate.”
Agriculture employs 850 000 people in South Africa, or 6 percent of the workforce, and the country of 56 million is a major food exporter.
Jannie de Villiers, CEO of South African commercial farming group Grain SA, said he was confident there would be no repeat of the chaos in Zimbabwe because South Africa’s constitution does not allow land expropriation without compensation.
He also said South African white farmers were committed to working with the government on land reform.
“We realise there is a lot more we can do to allow land reform to happen. We think the percentage chance of going down the Zimbabwe route is very small,” de Villiers said.
How to address the inequality that still exists 23 years after the end of white-minority rule will be the central debate at the ANC leadership vote in December.
Veteran politician Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife, is expected to run on a campaign to radically transfer wealth from the white minority to the black majority, including land reform.
Her main opponent is expected to be Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has also called for wealth redistribution but has made tackling government corruption and winning back investor confidence priorities.
Steyl warned against politics driving land reform, as happened in Zimbabwe when Mugabe allowed land grabs to secure the loyalty of the military.
The knock-on effects were disastrous. Zimbabwe tumbled into recession, inflation peaked at 500 billion percent. Unemployment is now above 90 percent.
“Don’t allow it to happen to you,” Steyl said. “You have to engage. You have to be sensible. You mustn’t allow desperation to win the day.”- The Source