Ramaphosa not worried that land reform program will bring U.S. sanctions

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the during 2018 Beijing Summit Of The Forum On China-Africa Cooperation - Joint Press Conference at the Great Hall of the People at The Great Hall Of The People on September 4, 2018 in Beijing, China. Lintao Zhang/POOL Via REUTERS *** Local Caption *** Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday brushed aside the possibility of U.S.-imposed sanctions over the land reform South Africa is pursuing.

“There is no reason to believe any country will impose sanctions on South Africa for any actions that we take, actions that are constitutional, that are lawful and consistent with international law,” Ramaphosa said while answering questions in the National Council of Provinces (Upper House of Parliament).

He was referring to speculations that the United States might impose sanctions on South Africa for its controversial land reform characterized by expropriation of land without compensation.

“Let’s face it, what we are going through has evoked a lot of questions,” Ramaphosa said.

In a tweet posted on August 22, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the South African government for “seizing land from white farmers.” Trump said he had asked his Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to closely study the South African land seizures and expropriation, and the large-scale killing of farmers. Trump’s incorrect remarks sparked a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

The South African government has not authorized land seizures and says it is still deliberating on the best way to implement land reform.

There have been some invasions of privately owned land, but these have been stopped by police.

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu met with the American charge d’affaires in Pretoria and was also in contact with Pompeo over the matter, according to Ramaphosa.

South Africa has to keep educating those who were interested in the country’s affairs, but who might not understand the country’s history and processes, said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said his office had not received any communication from the U.S. on the matter.

He said the government was ready to discuss its land reform plans with any country.

Ramaphosa pointed to “increasing consensus” at home and abroad that the accelerated land reform was essential for South Africa’s well-being.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders voiced support for and understanding of South Africa’s land reform when they visited the country recently, said Ramaphosa.

Referring to Parliament’s ongoing process to review the Constitution to pave way for land expropriation without compensation, Ramaphosa said, “Just relax, this process will end up very well.”

Ramaphosa reiterated that his government would carry out the land reform in light with the Constitution and rule of law, in a way that will strengthen the property rights of all South Africans and not detrimental to the economy.

Illegal land grabs would not be tolerated, he stressed.

He also refuted the notion that blacks can’t till the land and that South Africa would become another Zimbabwe or Venezuela where land reforms have failed.

Ramaphosa voiced confidence that South Africa would find solutions to its problems.

“A lot of people bring good solutions that we should not reject out of hand,” he said.