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DURBAN - WHILE at least half a million white South Africans exited the country in search of greener pastures over the past three decades, experts believe Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as president might cause them to make a U-turn.

A Statistics SA report released in 2017 projected that approximately 150000 would emigrate over the next five years.

But the SA Institute of Race Relations’ (IRR), Michael Morris, differed.

Morris said while there was a new spirit of optimism swirling around in South Africa, he was not sure how long that would last.

“If Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration succeeds in sustaining confidence - which will depend on higher economic growth - the country will regain skilled expatriates, of whatever colour. The reverse is equally true.”

Morris warned that race might be a deceptive indicator, saying he was doubtful that racial considerations prompted their emigration.

Stats SA said population growth estimates showed that the white population decreased by 22250 people, from 4.52million in 2016 to 4.49m in 2017.

While Morris said their polling data showed there was no evidence to suggest whites had any reason to feel unwelcome or that their future lay elsewhere in the world, the economic decline during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure was one on the triggers of the exodus.

“Also the wide-scale corruption as well as crude racial nationalism, has undermined confidence in the country.

"Some threats remain today, principally the ANC’s apparent determination to press on with expropriation without compensation in the land reform arena,” said Morris.

He warned that this, which the ANC adopted at its 54th national conference in December, was a recipe for disaster.

Angel Jones of the Homecoming Revolution, said in the past three months they had seen inquiries triple from South Africans living abroad since the start of this year.

“South Africans who had been toying with the idea of returning but were reluctant to do so because of the economic downturn and destructive political situation, are now seriously considering making the move."

SUNDAY TRIBUNE