The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has sparked a diplomatic uproar with South Africa, alleging that land belonging to white farmers is being seized and farmers killed in South Africa.
The US President made the allegation on his twitter account, on August 22, making claims that land belonging to whites in South Africa is been seized and that there was large scale killing of farmers (whites).
“I have asked Secretary of State, Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing lands from white farmers,’” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s allegations were not well received by the South African Government and its people who debunked Trump’s claims, saying that the President was ill-informed on the issue and was making unfounded claims.
In its own official twitter account, the South African Government replied President Trump, saying “South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.”
Trump’s allegations, according to analysts, have been hinged on claims based on what he watched from a television show on Fox News, as in his tweet, he quoted the show saying “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers”. He went on to tag Tucker Calson, an American conservative political commentator for Fox News, of the show where he got his information from.
The comments are coming at a time when debates on land redistribution have heightened in South Africa as land debates occupy one of the main political discuss.
The issue of land redistribution has been discussed by the South African Government which has proposed changing its Constitution to usher in the redistribution of land without possible compensation to the owners, so that a larger part of land be returned to its native owners, who were deprived of the land, during the Apartheid era.
Government statistics on land ownership in South Africa hold that most of the country’s farms and agricultural properties are possessed by white farmers. 72percent of land in the country is said to be owned by Whites, who make up only 9percent of the total population, leaving the remaining black population with 28percent of the land, though they form 91percent of the general population.
BBC fact checkers on the issue, write that “While the land “seizure” currently being discussed is not happening right now, the South African government has proposed changing its constitution making the redistribution of land – without compensating the owners – a strong possibility.
The pattern of land distribution in South Africa can be traced back to the colonial era. The Natives Land Act of 1913 restricted black people from buying or renting land in “white South Africa”, leading to the forced removals of black people.
In 1994, after the collapse of apartheid, the ANC, South Africa’s first democratically elected government, committed to redistributing 30% of white-owned agricultural land to black farmers by 2014. But so far only 10% has been transferred.
The government has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model where the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution. But the ANC accused land owners of inflating farm prices to a point where it made it difficult for the government to afford the land for redistribution purposes.”
Critics say Trump’s allegations, were a calculated attempt to shift public focus and news coverage on the guilty pleas of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and his campaign manager Paul Manafort, who have been indicted in the Muller probe on on-going investigation on the Trump campaign and alleged collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 US Presidential election.