Koos Bekker talks land reform, policy uncertainty at Naspers AGM

Land reform and a lack of policy certainty will have "spillover" effects on investment, Naspers chairperson Koos Bekker warned on Friday at the internet giant's AGM in Cape Town.

Bekker was responding to a shareholder who wanted to know Naspers’s position on land reform.

Non-executive director Fred Phaswana, who answered first, said that land expropriation without compensation is "complex" and that SA is going through a difficult time as the ruling ANC is restructuring itself while there are policy issues to deal with.

"It will take some time before we see settlement with this issue," Phaswana said. He added that it is difficult to say what Naspers’s position on the matter is.

Weighing in on the land debate, Bekker said: "We are not in agriculture, but these things will spillover into the investment field."

Bekker explained that in order to attract foreign investment to create jobs, there needed to be a "favourable climate", which is not the case right now.

In his remarks to shareholders at the start of the meeting, Bekker said that it is important for government to clarify policy for people to invest. He pointed out that 38% of funding on the JSE is from abroad.

"Policy uncertainty does not encourage people to invest," he said.

This week President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament how land reform would work. Government will start by first releasing land from state departments and entities. This will happen in an orderly fashion in accordance with the Constitution, Ramaphosa said.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted that he asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to study SA’s "land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers".

The rand subsequently weakened by as much as 1.7%, Bloomberg reported.

* Fin24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers.

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