STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

South Africa hits back at 'unfortunate' Trump tweet on land reform

South Africa hit back at Donald Trump on Thursday after the US President criticized the country's land refor...

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 5:38 PM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 5:38 PM

South Africa hit back at Donald Trump on Thursday after the US President criticized the country's land reform policies in an overnight tweet.

The controversy began when Trump tweeted late Wednesday that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers."

Africa

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Political Figures - US

South Africa

Southern Africa

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

US federal government

White House

Embassies and consulates

Government departments and authorities

International relations

International relations and national security

State departments and diplomatic services

Agriculture

Agriculture, forestry, and commercial fishing

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Farm workers

Labor and employment

Workers and professionals

Campaign finance

Elections and campaigns

Politics

Cyril Ramaphosa

Political Figures - Intl

Discrimination

Internet and WWW

Racism and racial discrimination

Social media

Societal issues

Society

Technology

Trump's tweet appeared to be in response to a report on Fox News which alleged that the South African government was "seizing land from white farmers."

On Thursday, the South African government said Trump's tweet was "based on false information" and said it would call on the US Embassy to explain the President's remarks.

"South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past," the government tweeted. "South Africa will speed up the pace of land reform in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our nation."

"Hysterical comments and statements do not assist in the process," Khusela Diko, spokeswoman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, told CNN. "The majority of South Africans want to see land reform. The majority of our farmers, white and black want to be a part of this initiative."

A complex and racially-charged issue

Land is a complex issue in South Africa. Racist policies of the past forcefully removed black and non-white South Africans from the land for white use.

There has been a land redistribution and restitution provision in the country's constitution since South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994. The government has been criticized for not moving quickly enough to settle land disputes.

The political debate over land reform has stepped up a level ahead of next year's elections.

Farm seizures, as described in the Fox report, are not ongoing in South Africa. However, President Ramaphosa announced on July 31 that the ruling African National Congress would seek to change the country's constitution to explicitly allow land that was seized during apartheid to be expropriated without compensation.

On Wednesday, Ramaphosa told parliament that expropriations formed one part of a broader land redistribution and agricultural development program that would only be introduced following public and parliamentary consultation.

"Acceleration of land redistribution is necessary not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation," he said.

In an article published in the UK's Financial Times early Thursday, Ramaphosa described access to land as one of the areas where "severe inequality between black and white South Africans" is "most devastating."

Killings of farmers at a 20-year low

Despite Trump's claims about the "large scale killing of farmers," research published in June 2018 by AgriSA, one of the country's largest farmer organizations, showed that killings had reached a 20-year low.

Forty-seven farmers were killed in 2017-18, according to AgriSA, marking a steady decline from the 153 farmers who lost their lives in 1998.

Crime is a serious problem in South Africa more broadly. There were more than 19,016 murders nationwide in 2017, according to police statistics, a slight increase from 2016.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was "extremely disturbing" to see Trump echoing "a longstanding and false white supremacist claim that South Africa's white farmers are targets of large-scale, racially-motivated killings by South Africa's black majority."

In a statement Thursday, the ADL called on Trump to "understand the facts and realities of the situation in South Africa, rather than repeat disturbing, racially divisive talking points."

Tweet was 'ill-informed' and 'incendiary'

In a speech to farmers in Bela Bela, Limpopo, which was prepared before Trump's tweet, South Africa's deputy president David Mabuza insisted the government would "discourage" those aiming to divide the country over land reform.

"We would like to discourage those who are using this sensitive and emotive issue of land to divide us as South Africans by distorting our land reform measures to the international community, and spreading falsehoods that our 'white farmers' are facing the onslaught from their own government," he said.

"This is far from the truth."

Trump is not the first foreign politician to take aim at South Africa's land reform policies.

In March, South Africa reacted sharply after Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton suggested white South African farmers should receive special visas due to the "horrific circumstances" they faced at home.

Ruth Hall, a leading expert on land issues in South Africa and a professor at the University of the Western Cape, described Trump's tweet as "ill-informed."

"The kind of statement that Trump made is characteristic of him. It is unfortunate, ill-informed, it is incendiary. What it does demonstrate is that the white right wing in South Africa has been successful in internationalizing their agenda," Hall told CNN.

"It also puts a spanner in the works of the concerted effort that President Ramaphosa has been making to clarify the land reform issue to the international community and investors. The government has clearly stated that there will be no land grabs."

Trump's tweet comes a month after his predecessor, Barack Obama, delivered a speech alongside Ramaphosa in Johannesburg in which he warned against the rise of "the politics of fear."

Obama's speech was seen by observers as a veiled criticism of some of Trump's policies.

This story has been updated with the correct transcription of Trump's tweet and the correct date of Ramaphosa's proposal for constitutional reform.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309841

Reported Deaths: 3569
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah50840642
Washington34683272
Marion32181388
Clackamas26315270
Lane23632246
Jackson20753255
Deschutes16401100
Umatilla12552125
Douglas10599185
Linn1030285
Josephine8536163
Yamhill737299
Klamath637891
Polk617770
Malheur475867
Benton454027
Coos406469
Columbia320237
Jefferson310446
Lincoln272829
Union266036
Wasco236739
Crook212137
Clatsop210225
Tillamook179623
Baker171920
Morrow166621
Curry166317
Hood River161635
Harney77115
Grant7538
Lake6608
Wallowa50111
Gilliam1364
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4636268

Reported Deaths: 67966
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144412725849
Riverside3575584802
San Diego3492274006
San Bernardino3468955501
Orange3135295354
Sacramento1498662070
Santa Clara1403871841
Fresno1356471889
Kern1343971515
Alameda1160681320
Ventura976231120
San Joaquin971621615
Contra Costa95595924
Stanislaus800341229
Tulare72812896
San Mateo52172607
San Francisco51808605
Monterey49445565
Solano44061312
Santa Barbara43065500
Sonoma39376376
Merced39279535
Placer36390364
Imperial34235755
Kings30038285
San Luis Obispo28273313
Madera21672258
Butte21205230
Shasta20647276
Santa Cruz20134211
Yolo19118239
Marin17080242
El Dorado15964127
Sutter13055153
Napa1224695
Yuba923461
Nevada845685
Humboldt826284
Tehama821184
San Benito708567
Mendocino681971
Lassen636827
Tuolumne612593
Lake601087
Amador489759
Glenn396430
Siskiyou388841
Calaveras339366
Del Norte334234
Colusa290718
Inyo166239
Mono14935
Plumas12336
Mariposa96712
Trinity71910
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1180
Alpine1000
Out of CA00
Medford
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 78°
Brookings
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 82°
Crater Lake
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 78°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
78° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 78°
Klamath Falls
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 71°
Warmer tomorrow, smoke potentially returns on Wednesday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Monday, September 20th Afternoon Weather

Image

FLU VACCINE

Image

Monday, September 20 morning weather

Image

Sunday, September 19th Weather

Image

Tropical Storm Peter forms as the 16th Atlantic storm of 2021

Image

2021 Man Cave Makeover winner

Image

Sunday, September 19th Weather

Image

Oregon wraps up non-conference play with a steamrolling of Stony Brook

Image

Vidlak makes Beavers debut in Oregon State's 42-0 win

Image

Raiders struggle in road loss to College of Idaho, 29-3