Trevor Manuel raises an important point - Biznews

19 July 2018 - It is deeply concerning that despite the dire need for investment in the economy, and despite government’s rhetorical commitment to fostering a hospitable investment climate, some of the greatest obstacles confronting South Africa’s future arise from government’s own choices and actions.

Terence Corrigan

It’s fair to say that as finance minister, Trevor Manuel was not afraid to take unpopular stances. For much of his tenure, he was the lightning rod for the ire of many within his own party and his alliance partners, for whom he signified the ANC’s turn to ‘neo-liberalism’. Tough choices perhaps, but he oversaw steady growth in the economy – between 2005 and 2007, it averaged 5% a year. We can only dream of that now.

Mr Manuel is to be congratulated for his remarks about South Africa’s ‘land debate’, presumably referring to expropriation without compensation. As one of President Ramaphosa’s investment emissaries, he has found explaining it ‘a bigger challenge than what we thought’.

Diplomatically framed, this will hopefully open up some discussion of the matter. Degrading property rights will be a disincentive to investment – our experience at the Institute of Race Relations is that the prospect of so doing is already having a negative effect. It is not something that can be ‘explained’ away.

Indeed, Mr Manuel and his fellow emissaries are likely to be confronted not only with concerns about future policy of expropriation without compensation, but with actions already taken. Notable, here, is the termination of various bilateral investment treaties.

It is deeply concerning that despite the dire need for investment in the economy, and despite government’s rhetorical commitment to fostering a hospitable investment climate, some of the greatest obstacles confronting South Africa’s future arise from government’s own choices and actions.

One can only hope that there is a willingness to change direction: warnings about the destructive impact of existing and proposed policy have long been sounded. For the sake of South Africa’s future they need to be heeded.

Terence Corrigan, project manager, Institute of Race Relations. 

https://www.biznews.com/sa-investing/2018/07/19/trevor-manuel-foreign-investment-land

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