The suggestion that the ANC has shifted its “stance on land custodianship” risks deepening the naivety about the governing party’s real intentions (“ANC shifts stance on land custodianship to appease EFF”, June 21).

First, the party’s objective in amending the constitution is not land reform in the main, but rather the nationalisation of the financial services and private healthcare sectors. The ANC needs this to feed its cadre deployment networks, given their dependency on flagging tax revenues. Should it fail to pivot the financing of those networks onto the pools of capital that lie in pension funds and banks, the internal unity of the party will splinter further. Land is simply the thin end of the wedge to set the precedents that will allow such nationalisation.

Second, custodianship has long been the objective of the ANC’s expropriation efforts. We have warned in writing since 2014 that the ANC would seek to amend the constitution not just to introduce expropriation without compensation but also the even more dangerous policy of custodial takings. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent assurances to the contrary were a case study of the well-worn strategy of “dexterity of tact but firmness of principle” that has characterised the introduction of all the ANC’s more insidious policies and were set to string South Africans along.

Does anyone really believe he was not aware and in support of the stance Dr Mathole Motshekga and his ad hoc committee had taken in favour of custodianship? Is it conceivable that he was surprised to learn of it, in the same way he was surprised to learn of the extent of state capture and the dire state of Eskom?

In any event, even the prior drafting of the ANCs constitutional amendment was sufficient to bring custodianship about, so this spat with the EFF changes little. The great reformer praise-singing commentators helped bring to power does not exist.

No reforms are coming other than the most desperate of concessions reluctantly agreed to as the lights literally go off or the state airline is run into the ground. Elements of the ANC and the EFF are working hand in glove on expropriation policy and only feuding over who will get the credit.

If SA is fortunate, that feuding may stall the current drive to amend the constitution. But unless a growing number of influential groups in business start getting their analysis of the risks correct and act firmly to oppose these, the amendments will eventually pass and in time the precedents will be employed to nationalise private banks into a new state bank, pension funds into a new national social security fund, and health insurers into the state-run National Health Insurance scheme.

Frans Cronje

Institute of Race Relations

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