Ramaphosa on land: 'Just relax'

If South Africa does not embrace land reform now, it means the country is embracing instability, President Cyril Ramaphosa said when he answered questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.

Naturally, the matter of land cropped up, specifically the possibility of sanctions if South Africa amends the Constitution to allow expropriation without compensation and United States President Donald Trump's tweet.

"There is no reason to believe any country will impose sanctions on South Africa," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said there was "increasing consensus" at home and abroad that accelerated land reform was essential for South Africa's well-being.

He also said there was great support that whatever the government did with land reform, would be done in terms of the Constitution and rule of law.

He said it must be done in a way that strengthens the property rights of all South Africans, and it must not harm the economy.

'Let's face it'

The president said his office had not received any communication from the US on the matter, but that Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu met with the American chargé d'affaires. He said Sisulu was also in contact with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

He said South Africa had to keep educating those who were interested in the country's affairs, but who might not understand the country's history and processes.

"Let's face it, what we are going through has evoked a lot of questions," he said.

He added he discussed the matter with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who understood South Africa's position. He also mentioned Sisulu's meeting with Belgian deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, Didier Reynders, on Monday. Reynders also expressed his understanding of the process.

EFF MP Tebogo Mokwele said South Africa was "still faced by the arrogance of right wingers, by name AfriForum, who is continuously spreading propaganda that white farmers are murdered". She asked what Ramaphosa was going to do to stop the spread of such propaganda.

He said debate would disprove this "fake news".

"As the matter is ventilated more broadly, more well-thinking people can see this is a historic problem that must be addressed," Ramaphosa said.

"We are going to prove that those who are spreading lies about our country… is spreading falsehoods."

'Just relax' 

He recalled that when the Constitution was drafted there were also people who "ran off" complaining that their rights would be violated.

"Just relax, this process will end up very well," Ramaphosa said.

He again reiterated that land grabs would not be tolerated.

He was also asked to respond to "those who say black people can't till the land" and that this would lead to food shortages.

Ramaphosa said there were examples of very capable black farmers throughout the country.

"The capability of black people in farming runs in their blood," he said. "If you look at who was working the farms…"

"… It is us!" Mokwele and other EFF MPs said as they completed his sentence.

He described the current debate about land as "something wonderful in the country".

"A lot of people bring good solutions that we should not reject out of hand."

On the notion that South Africa would end up like Zimbabwe or Venezuela, Ramaphosa said South Africa had always been able to find solutions to problems.

"Rather than try and talk our country down, let us talk about the positives," he said.

"Love your country as you love yourself."

WATCH: Ramaphosa explains how land expropriation will work