Confidence indexes and agricultural land prices are slumping in part due to the potential constitutional amendment that the African National Congress says is needed to correct racially skewed land-ownership patterns. With elections looming next year, President Cyril Ramaphosa has embraced land expropriation without compensation, but insists there won’t be a land grab and any policy changes won’t be allowed to damage farming production or the economy.
Some critics say the constitution already enables the state to tackle land reform, restitution and redistribution, and that changes are unnecessary. The populist Economic Freedom Fighters party, which has won support from young voters in impoverished townships, supports the change and wants all land nationalised.
White farmers own almost three-quarters of South Africa’s agricultural land, according to an audit by Agri SA published last year.
These charts show how the debate has affected the farming industry since the ANC decided in December to seek constitutional change:
The Agbiz/IDC agribusiness confidence index declined to the lowest in more than two years, the Agricultural Business Chamber said on Monday. That’s the weakest since 2016, when South Africa was in the grips of a drought that ensued after the lowest annual rainfall in at least a century.