Theresa May backs South Africa land reform—to make a post-Brexit friend

See, we’re buddies.
See, we’re buddies.
Image: Reuters/Mike Hutchings
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UK prime minister Theresa May began her first official visit to Africa in Cape Town today (Aug. 28). It’s the first stop on a five-day tour in which she will also travel to Kenya and Nigeria to court trade partners on behalf of post-Brexit Britain.

May came to South Africa to lay the foundation for 2022, when she believes the UK could be the top G7 investor in Africa, according to Bloomberg, creating new opportunities for British exporters.

May is using her visit to assure trading partners that once the UK leaves the EU bloc, Britain remains ready to do business. In South Africa, she also signed trade deals with the government of president Cyril Ramaphosa and diplomats from neighboring Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and eSwatini (Swaziland).

Curbing migration to Britain by creating jobs in the developing world is part of May’s stated policy. It’s a message South Africa is keen to hear, as it struggles with high unemployment, especially among the youth. The UK also pledged to support Ramaphosa’s goal to raise $100 billion in investment to pull the country out of its Zuma-era malaise.

Seemingly keen to stay on the good side of her new friend Ramaphosa, May said she supported land reform in South Africa. It was a markedly more reserved approach than US president Donald Trump’s stance on the matter.

“The UK has, for some time now, supported land reform that is legal, transparent and follows a democratic process,” May said. “I welcome the comments he has already made about approaching land reform, bearing in mind the economic and social consequences…and that land reform will be no smash and grab.”

While back home lawmakers in her own party want to cut aid, May promised to maintain Britain’s aid budget at 0.7%. It seemed a bold move from a prime minister struggling to keep her cabinet together as the details of Brexit threatens to tear it apart. With so many enemies back home, it’s no wonder May is looking for new friends, even it means dancing: