South Africa's Ramaphosa assures Moody's on land reform
* Ramaphosa assures Moody's on land issue
* Goldman Sachs says issue is unnerving markets
* Anglo CEO says South Africa's future "more positive"
(Recasts with meeting between Ramaphosa, Moody's)
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN, March 7 (Reuters) - South African President Cyril
Ramaphosa told ratings agency Moody's on Wednesday that a drive
to expropriate land without compensation would be done in a way
that would not harm the economy or food security, the presidency
said on Wednesday.
Land ownership remains a highly emotional subject more than
two decades after apartheid's demise. Now the ruling African
National Congress (ANC) is aiming to change the constitution to
allow white-owned property to be taken without payment, for
redistribution to landless blacks.
Ramaphosa also told Moody's that failure to create jobs was
the biggest threat to the South African economy, the presidency
said in a statement.
South Africa has a jobless rate of over 25 percent and
remains scarred by glaring income and ownership disparities that
run mostly along racial lines, fuelling social unrest.
"President Ramaphosa reaffirmed that accelerated land reform
will unfold within a clear legal framework and without
negatively affecting economic growth, agricultural production
and food security," the presidency said.
Moody's will announce its latest outlook on South Africa on
March 23; it is now the only major ratings agency that has kept
South Africa's credit rating at investment grade. S&P and Fitch
cut their ratings to sub-investment grade last year, after
then-president Jacob Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan as finance
The land issue is now high on investor radar screens, muting
some of the euphoria over Ramaphosa's replacement of the
scandal-tinged Zuma, who was forced from office last month by
Goldman Sachs' Africa director Colin Coleman said earlier on
Wednesday that South Africa was in a "very good position" but
warned that the land drive was unnerving markets.
The policy would mainly target unused land, a senior ANC
official said on Tuesday.
Most land is still in white hands in South Africa, but
estimates vary. The government says blacks only own 4 percent of
private land; farm groups and analysts say much state and
communal land could be transferred.
Ramaphosa, a former trade unionist turned business tycoon,
is still enjoying a honeymoon with the markets and corporations.
South Africa's future is looking "a lot more positive" since
Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma last month, Anglo American's
Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said on Wednesday.
Mining companies and South Africa's government have been at
loggerheads for years over legislation that the industry warns
could deter investment by changing the requirements for black
ownership of private firms.
The new mining minister, Gwede Mantashe, last week pledged
to finalise the latest version of the charter within three
months. Cutifani said companies had a positive meeting with him
"It was a great meeting. A meeting that we've been looking
for, for probably two to three years," Cutifani told a
conference in Cape Town.
"We've continued to invest in South Africa, we believe in
the future of South Africa and from our point of view it just
got a lot more positive."
Markets have reacted positively since Ramaphosa became the
leader of the ANC in December, before he become head of state
last month. The rand has gained 7 percent against the
U.S. dollar since Ramaphosa took over.
(Additional reporting and writing by Ed Stoddard; editing by
First Published: 2018-03-07 11:59:57
Updated 2018-03-07 21:46:49
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.