Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Keep an open mind on the land debate: Maria Ramos

South Africans must keep an “open mind” about the debate over land expropriation without compensation, Barclays Africa Group chief executive Maria Ramos said on Thursday.

The land debate has to be approached calmly and responsibly Ramos said, adding that it was critical that the nation dealt with an issue that “sits at the core of so much of the hurt in this country”.

Ramos was answering questions from journalists, following the publication of the bank’s annual results.

Earlier this week, the Economic Freedom Fighters won a motion in parliament, requiring the legislature to review the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation. It has sparked fear over the potential economic consequences of this move.

Not least of these is the impact it will have on the country’s banks, whose lending activities are underpinned, in large part, by property that acts as collateral.

The motion follows a fraught ANC elective conference in December, where the party resolved to seek a change to the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. But the ANC said at the time, that it would only be done if it was sustainable and without harming other sectors of the economy.

The treatment of farms will be a key question, given how much debt there is on agricultural land. According to the most recent statistics from the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as of December 31 2016, total farming debt stood at over R145-billion. Around R39.6-billion of this debt was held with the state-owned Land Bank, and a further R89.4-billion was held by commercial banks, and around R10-billion held by agricultural co-operatives.

The banking industry was exposed through bonded property but nothing “is going to be served by hyping this thing up to a frenzy”, Ramos said. “We need to be measured about it, we need to understand what those exposures are.”

The matter has been referred to the constitutional review committee, which now has until August to consider the amendment, including holding public hearings, and then report back to parliament.

The bank would participate in the parliamentary engagements, if invited, Ramos said.

But the constitution already provided for expropriation without compensation Ramos added, and comfort should be taken from the fact that the debate had to consider other consequences such as impacts on food security.

“I would be very surprised, that in that debate, choices are going to be exercised that are going to put an entire sector at risk,” said Ramos.

Given the skills within the financial sector, solutions could be found to address the need for sustainable land reform and land restitution, she continued.

“I…as the chief executive in this organisation, will not add to any headline that says this is going to be a serious problem,” said Ramos. “We have to do our homework”.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Lynley Donnelly
Lynley Donnelly
Lynley is a senior business reporter at the Mail & Guardian. But she has covered everything from social justice to general news to parliament - with the occasional segue into fashion and arts. She keeps coming to work because she loves stories, especially the kind that help people make sense of their world.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against the...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

Micro-hydropower lights up an Eastern Cape village

There is hidden potential for small hydropower plants in South Africa

More top stories

Facts and figures: Global domestic violence numbers

“Every day, on average, 137 women are killed by a member of their own family,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, in a statement released in March last year. These appalling figures are just one of the many consequences of gender-based violence and abuse, namely domestic abuse, which is defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner

Oxygen supplies in Gauteng remain stable amid third wave

More than 1 500 patients in Gauteng are currently on oxygen assistance

‘Corrupt’ SAA sale to be challenged in court

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa says the organisation is seeking an urgent application to set aside the sale of SAA to Takatso

Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against the...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×