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Trump Tweet on Land Grabs Draws Ire from South Africa

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump

A recent tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump alleging land grabs in South Africa, has set social media on fire with South Africans dismissing the allegation as “ill informed,” and distancing itself from the violent land seizures that took place in Zimbabwe in the early 2000s.

In his tweet, which claimed that some white farmers are being killed as happened in Zimbabwe, President Trump wrote: “I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo 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 land from white farmers.”

Deputy secretary of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) Jessie Duarte said the tweet hurt a lot of people and was “an indictment on the people like Afriforum and the DA (Democratic Alliance) who have been peddling untruths about the land reform process throughout the world.”

In an interview with VOA’s Zimbabwe Service on Trump’s allegations, South African human rights lawyer and land expert Lwazi Mtshiyo said, “I think it was misleading for President Trump to even go as far as suggesting there is something to be investigated, when there is actually nothing.”

As far as the South Africa’s efforts to equitably distribute land to its citizens, Mtshiyo continued, “I think his tweet was misleading to an extent that this was something already happening and there is no such thing and if it does happen, it will happen through the lawful process that everyone would have agreed to.”

Mtshiyo said South Africa wants to conduct land reforms after consulting all stakeholders.

“I don’t agree with comparing Zimbabwe to South Africa those are two completely different contexts. The fact that we are having a conversation about this is progress on its own. This is about land reform and fair distribution of land so that everyone benefits. ”

South Africans were invited to participate on the proposed amendment of Section 25 of the country’s constitution dealing with property rights.

In the invitation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “The proposed amendment would need to reinforce the fundamental principles of the property clause, which among other things, prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of property and holds that expropriation is possible in the public interest subject to just and equitable compensation. It also says that no provision can impede the process of land reform to redress the results of past racial discrimination.”

The majority of South African want the nation to conduct transparent land reforms.

Corner Mulder, one of the leaders of the Freedom Front Plus, a leftist political party in South Africa, endorsed the American president’s tweet, saying “Thank You President Trump, it is the intention of the ANC government to steal property from whites under the term ‘expropriation without compensation’ we need your help.”

Another issue raised in the Trump tweet is one of white genocide happening in South Africa.

Asked about this, Mtshiyo said, “You have all these human rights bodies that are present in SA and all sorts of human rights lawyers and the human rights commission itself being in South Africa, no one is aware of that and nowhere is it recorded in any human rights report that is out there. You can look at all the international human rights reports there is no genocide.”

The U.S State Department says President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have discussed South Africa’s land reform.

A spokesperson said Thursday that the president asked Pompeo to investigate reports that the South African government is expropriating land owned by white farmers without compensation.

Interview with Lwazi Mtfhiyo, South African Human Rights Lawyer, Land Expert
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