South Africa responds to incorrect Trump tweet on land reform plan

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address at Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Ruvan Boshoff/Pool

South Africa’s government in an official tweet on Thursday rejected United States President Donald Trump’s tweet on land reform as a “narrow perception” that divides the nation.

“South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past,” government said in a post on Twitter.

The response comes following an announcement by the Trump Administration that it will look into South Africa’s land reform efforts.

“I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and large scale killing of farmers,” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

Trump’s tweet appeared to be a response to a Fox News report on Wednesday that focused on South Africa’s land issue and murders of white farmers.

The State Department has not commented on Ramaphosa’s announcement. It was not immediately available for comment on Trump’s tweet.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Aug. 1 that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is forging ahead with plans to change the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation, as whites still own most of South Africa’s land more than two decades after the end of apartheid.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model under which the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks. Progress has been slow.

Ramaphosa has said any land reform will be conducted without an impact on economic growth or food security. No land has been “seized” since the reform plans were announced, the ANC says.

South Africa’s state-owned Land Bank said on Monday a plan to allow the state to seize land without compensation could trigger defaults that could cost the government 41 billion rand ($2.8 billion) if the bank’s rights as a creditor are not protected.

Trump’s tweet comes days after it was announced that his wife, Melania, will travel to Africa in October for her first major solo international trip as first lady.

South Africa’s foreign ministry called the remarks, which sources said Trump made during a meeting on immigration legislation, “crude and offensive” and said Trump’s subsequent denial was not categorical.

 

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