Why Is Ramaphosa Making a Risky Bet on Land Reform in South Africa Now?

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 2018 (AP photo).
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 2018 (AP photo).

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to put his authority behind not just the cause of land reform in South Africa, but the expropriation of land without compensation, is political risk-taking of the highest order. If it works, he may succeed in building support for the ruling African National Congress ahead of the 2019 general election, as well as neutralizing his populist opponents inside and outside the ANC. But it also has considerable potential for blowback, with Ramaphosa ultimately pleasing no one and alienating important constituencies at home and abroad. This inevitably raises some broader questions. Why has a president with a […]

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