CAPE TOWN, November 20 – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday praised South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for probing the state capture scandal, saying the government’s newfound commitment to fighting corruption was an encouraging sign for German investors.
“We have come at a time when interest in Germany in South Africa has grown anew,” Steinmeier said at a joint media briefing with Ramaphosa after one-on-one talks at Tuynhuis.
There was a noticeable change in the political climate, he added, saying it a dialogue of hope had replaced one of “resignation”.
“I am delighted that President Ramaphosa has not just announced a new dawn, he has underpinned this with a concrete change in policy direction,” he said.
“In Germany we are following, with interest, acknowledgment and respect, the new politics you have founded here in South Africa, with the strengthening of the independence of the judiciary, with the pursuit of transparency, and with the prosecution of corruption, the efforts of state institutions against what you here in South Africa call state capture.
“It is a very important message to the international community, that is being noted.”
Steinmeier said there was nothing as likely to dissuade German investors as a climate in which corruption flourished and he therefore believed that his visit, the first by a German president to South Africa in 20 years, was well-timed and would serve to deepen ties.
The German president is being accompanied by a strong business delegation, which includes the executives of Siemens and state-owned development bank KfW, on his three-day trip.
He said the two governments had in particular committed to formalising cooperation that would see Germany transfer its knowledge and skill of vocational training.
Asked whether German expatriates and investors feared Ramaphosa’s land reform drive, Steinmeier said there was a parallel in Germany in that the country needed to create a legal mechanism after the re-unification of East and West Germany in the early 1990s to return land to owners who had been dispossessed by the decades-long division of the state.
Ramaphosa said international investors had nothing to fear from the land reform process, that will at the end of this month see the National Assembly debate a proposal to amend section 25 of the Constitution to allow explicitly for land expropriation without compensation.
He stressed that there would be “no land grabs” and that property rights would be secure.
“Investors should know that their investments will be secured by our laws, will be secured by our various conventions we have, and for that reason, as we are open about the processes we are involved in people are listening to us both in South Africa, in Europe and in the United States, they hear our message very clearly.”
Steinmeier referred to the fact that Germany and South Africa would serve as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council from 2019 and said he believed the countries had a joint duty to defend and advance multi-literalism at a time when the world order itself was in question.
Ramaphosa added: “We are particularly interested in achieving the African Union goal of silencing the guns on the continent by 2020, and welcome Germany’s contribution to the continent’s own efforts to advance peace and stability.”(ANA)