CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Britain supports South Africa’s land reform program provided it is carried out legally, Prime Minister Theresa May said in Cape Town on Tuesday, adding that she would discuss the issue with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The UK has for some time now supported land reform. Land reform that is legal, that is transparent, that is generated through a democratic process,” May told reporters.
“It’s an issue that I raised and discussed with President Ramaphosa when he was in London earlier this year. I’ll be talking about it with him later today.”
She said that from previous comments from Ramaphosa, she is convinced it will not be a “smash and grab” process but one responsibly designed to encourage economic growth. May’s support for Ramaphosa’s plans for land redistribution is dramatically different from U.S. President Donald Trump, who last week was critical of the policies in a tweet.
Last week South Africa accused Trump of stoking racial divisions after he said he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to study South African “land and farm seizures” and the “killing of farmers”.
With Britain due to leave the European Union in March 2019, May is seeking to bolster Britain’s ties with other regions around the world, notably Africa. As part of that strategy, May is visiting three of Africa’s largest economies – South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – along with her trade minister and a delegation of 29 business leaders.
“I am committed to Africa and committed to using every lever of the British government to support the partnerships and ideas that will bring benefits for generations to come,” May said in a rainy Cape Town at the start of her tour that is being promoted under the slogan “U.K.-Africa: Partners For Opportunity.”
May has high ambition, envisioning Britain becoming the biggest investor in Africa from the world’s major industrial economies – the Group of Seven that also includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Only China would be ahead of Britain.
“By 2022, I want the U.K. to be the G7’s number one investor in Africa, with Britain’s private sector companies taking the lead in investing the billions that will see Africa’s economies grow by trillions,” said May.