S.African farmers 'furious' over Trump land reform tweet

Larry Hoffman
August 26, 2018

His comments come as President of the United States Donald Trump revealed on Twitter that his State Secretary would be instituting a probe into land seizures and farm murders in South Africa.

South Africa has not seized or condoned the seizure of any white-owned farms to date and hasn't changed its constitution, although it is considering doing so.

Trump's tweet also caused the rand to weaken by 2% against the dollar, and also caused a diplomatic dispute within South African government after a U.S. ambassador was called forth to explain the president's "unfortunate comments".

The United States warned South Africa on Thursday that seizing land without compensation risked sending the country down the wrong path, deepening a spat over Pretoria's efforts to fix a glaring racial disparity nearly 25 years 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.

DIRCO also urged the Charge d'Affaires to indicate to Washington that the people of South Africa, of all races, are working together through Parliament and other legal platforms to find a solution to this historic challenge and that President Trump's tweet serves only to polarize debate on this sensitive and crucial matter.

Trump's tweet touched on the overwhelmingly white ownership of farmland in South Africa.

The South African government tweeted on Thursday that it "totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide the nation and reminds it of its colonial past".

However she added that on "the expropriation of land without compensation, our position is that that would risk sending South Africa down the wrong path".

Kriel added that Trump could suspend South Africa from the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade programme if property rights were not respected.

"The rand recovery has not been in isolation but rather in line with that of its emerging market peers on the back of a weakening US dollar", IG South Africa senior market analyst Shaun Murison said. Reform aims to improve access to land for all and reduce wealth inequality in South Africa.

The imbalance stems from purchases and seizures during the colonial era that were then enshrined in law during apartheid.

South Africa's national discussion on land reform has been open and transparent since it began 24 years ago.

The South African government was quick to respond Thursday.

"The President of the USA needs political distractions to turn our gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he's attacking South Africa with the disproven racial myth of "large scale killings of farmers" This man has never visited the continent and has no discernible Africa policy", Gaspard tweeted.

There were 47 South African farmers murdered in the 12 months ending in March, according to Agri SA, a South African farm lobby. We know the US, Britain and the European Union will come for us After the Donald Trump tweet we are more determined to expropriate our land. The murders on farms are proportionately higher than South Africa's overall murder rate because farms are generally more remote and exposed, Newham said.

Trump's statement echoed that off white supremacists.

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