This is no time to relax on expropriation without compensation
No sooner had the American secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, issued a warning to South Africa that its proposed expropriation policy would be "disastrous" than his ambassador in South Africa, Lana Marks, said it was not going to happen.
In an interview with the Mail and Guardian, Ms Marks said that "there will be no confiscation whatsoever of private land". She had personally advised all partners in the United States (US) of this. "Now is the time for major US investment in South Africa."
This is the second time a representative of a country with substantial assets in South Africa has issued such public assurances. During her visit here in August 2018, Theresa May, then still British prime minister, said she welcomed assurances from Cyril Ramaphosa that "land reform will be no smash and grab". Her government supported "land reform that is legal and transparent and generated through a democratic process". Ms May too then went on to say that "there's an opportunity to unlock investment".
These assurances notwithstanding, it is doubtful that major new investment into South Africa will take place. Quite apart from the crisis at Eskom, it will take a great deal more than assurances by Mr Ramaphosa to Ms May or Ms Marks to quieten uncertainties and anxieties about the ANC's proclaimed policy to confiscate property without compensation.
Although it is sometimes argued that President Ramaphosa's support for this policy is dictated mainly by his need to consolidate his support within the ruling African National Congress (ANC), he has spoken so often and so passionately on the subject that it is hard to believe that he does not believe in it as a matter of personal conviction.