CAPE TOWN (REUTERS) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told the white Afrikaner community on Thursday that it should not view his government’s land reform plans as a threat, but as a way to harness the country’s economic potential and heal divisions from the past.
Ramaphosa has embarked on a charm offensive ahead of next year’s national election as he seeks to restore confidence in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and kick-start economic growth after a decade marred by corruption and mismanagement.
The ANC has faced criticism that its land policies could erode property rights and deter investment, even though privately owned land is not expected to be expropriated until after the election.
Ramaphosa, who played a key role in the negotiations that led to the end of white minority rule in 1994, on Thursday urged Afrikaners to approach land reform in the same spirit as the transition to democracy.
“You are Africans, and we must accept that,” he said, ending his speech to applause from the crowd. “Afrikaners are as integral to the South African nation as any other community that we have.”