Tough sell for Davos del­e­ga­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

THIS week, South African busi­ness and gov­ern­ment lead­ers are on an­other trip to Switzerland for the meet­ing of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, where they want to show­case South Africa as a prime in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion and a faith­ful part­ner in build­ing global pros­per­ity. With the threat of prop­erty ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion loom­ing over South Africa, it is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine how they will be able to do this.

Putting on an op­ti­mistic face and point­ing to South Africa’s pos­i­tives is un­likely to be suf­fi­cient. Nei­ther will of­fer­ing the im­plau­si­ble rider that ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion will be un­der­taken with due re­gard for the well­be­ing of the economy as a whole.

The abridge­ment of the con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tees in re­spect of prop­erty, com­bined with a pro­gramme of com­pen­sa­tion- free ex­pro­pri­a­tion would, by any anal­y­sis, deal a sig­nif­i­cant blow to the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment.

In­deed, our in­ter­ac­tions with many in the busi­ness com­mu­nity sug­gest that the prospect of this hap­pen­ing is al­ready caus­ing dam­age.

For years now, the need for struc­tural re­forms and de­ci­sive ac­tion to deal with our eco­nomic tra­vails has been widely recog­nised, not least within gov­ern­ment, al­though fol­low-through has been in­dif­fer­ent. The en­dorse­ment of ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion car­ried the clear mes­sage that the com­mit­ment to this is at best luke­warm.

We wish our del­e­gates to Davos all good for­tune – they will need it.

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