If I could, I would tie white South Africans to a tree and say don’t leave: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that there is place in South Africa for all people who live in it.

Ramaphosa called for young white South Africans not to leave the country in a pre-election campaign drive in Stellenbosch on Tuesday (9 April).

“I don’t want white, young South Africans to leave the country. And if I could, I will tie them down to a tree and say don’t leave, I want you here in this country. So, I want all the skills.”

He said that the fears that many white South Africans have of not being wanted, “is entirely not true”. “There is a place, there is room for all of us,” the president said.

Ramaphosa tried to allay fears around South Africa’s coming land reform changes, saying that it is going to be done in accordance with our Constitution.

“It is not going to be a land grab,” he said.

A report out earlier this week suggested that as many as 400,000 high-income professionals have emigrated from South Africa since 1994.

The report by the Enterprise Observatory of South Africa (EOSA) looked at how South Africa’s financial and business sector has shrunk dramatically over the last decade.

Speaking to 702’s Bruce Whitfield, the EOSA’s Johannes Wessels said that the 2017 government white paper on migration found that for every one South African returning to the country, eight are leaving.

The same white paper showed that the average number of black professionals leaving the country exceeds the number of white South Africans leaving, he said.

“The economy is clearly a big driver, and so is the security situation and the high levels of crime,” Wessels said.

“On the World Economic Forum Index, the cost of crime on business in South Africa is the fifth highest in the world – behind only countries like Venezuela. It is a very difficult position for businesses to operate in and for professionals to make a contribution,” he said.

How many people have gone?

Angel Jones, CEO of Homecoming Revolution, a recruitment firm that specialises in ‘brain gain’ and bringing global African talent back to the continent, said that conservative estimates show that there are around 900,000 South Africans living abroad.

However, Homecoming Revolution believes that this number is likely closer to three times as high (2,700,000+), she said.

Speaking to 702 Jones said that BEE was one of the bigger push factors, and could definitely be a bit more flexible.

“We have unbelievably high calibre ‘pale males’ who are dying to come back,” she said. “Still we see plenty of South Africans wanting to return home.

“They want to be with friends. They want the lifestyle. They want a sense of belonging.”

Read: This is how much it will cost to move to the UK from South Africa in 2019

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If I could, I would tie white South Africans to a tree and say don’t leave: Ramaphosa