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USA's Pompeo: SA’s land reform policy would be disastrous for economy, people

The United States’ top diplomat said for true inclusive and sustainable economic liberation, African economies needed strong rule of law, respect for property rights, and regulation that encourages investment.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa on 19 February 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has criticised South Africa’s proposed land reform policy to expropriate land without compensation, saying it would be “disastrous” for the economy.

Addressing reporters on Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Pompeo said for true inclusive and sustainable economic liberation, African economies needed strong rule of law, respect for property rights, and regulation that encourages investment.

“South Africa is debating an amendment to permit the expropriation of private property without compensation. That would be disastrous for that economy, and most importantly for the South African people,” Pompeo said.

The United States’ top diplomat was speaking on the last leg of his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa. He also visited Senegal and Angola this week during the five-day tour.

In 2018, US President Donald Trump also criticised SA’s land reform programme on Twitter.

Trump said at the time that he had asked Pompeo to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures”, which received a lot of backlash from most political parties and President Cyril Ramaphosa's government.

His tweet appeared to be a response to a Fox News report that focused on SA’s land reform and murders of white farmers.

In his State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament last week, Ramaphosa announced that government was ready to table the Expropriation Bill that outlines the circumstances under which expropriation of land without compensation would be permissible.

The president also announced that this year government would release about 700,000 hectares of state land for agricultural production after having since releasing 44,000 hectares of state land for the settlement of land restitution claims.

WATCH: US Secretary of State addresses reporters in Ethiopia

Additional reporting by Winnie Theletsane.