ADL skewers Trump for tweet on white South African conspiracy theory

Arturo Kim
August 24, 2018

While the ANC first agreed in December that the constitution be changed, the populist Economic Freedom Fighters, which has won support from young voters in impoverished townships by vowing to nationalise everything from land to banks, tabled a motion proposing the amendment in parliament in February.

He added that Trump's comment came just three months after the organisation sent a delegation to the United States to brief Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson, and the Cato Institute think tank, on the situation in South Africa.

On Aug, 1, Ramaphosa announced that his party, the African National Congress (ANC), meant to push forward with a change to the constitution that would allow the seizure of land without compensation (called expropriation in South Africa), to address what the ANC calls the "historic injustice of landlessness". A journalist asked her if she believed the South African policy appeared to be similar to the land reform that had taken place in Zimbabwe. "There is a black genocide here in South Africa; just recently a farmer was convicted for the murder of a black farmer".

AfriForum, a group that campaigns for the interests of Afrikaners in South Africa, welcomed Mr Trump's move, saying it believed it had influenced the USA president's views.

It's not clear what the Trump administration could, or would, do to get involved in South Africa's land controversy - especially considering that the US has not had an ambassador to the country since December 2016 because Trump has not yet appointed anyone to the post.

The South African government responded to the president on Twitter, saying the country "totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past".

Updates with South Africa response in second paragraph. "There clearly needs to be land reform in South Africa, but it needs to be done in a responsible and fair manner".

Ramaphosa has however assured the country that expropriation of land will be a peaceful process.

Trump asks Pompeo to 'study South Africa farm seizures'
South Africa calls Trump 'misinformed' over land policy

Despite right wing capitalization on the issue of land, Vandome says, foreign influence is unlikely to play much of a role in that contest. "It has also resolved that in determining the mechanisms of implementation, we must ensure that we do not undermine the economy, agricultural production and food security". One group that has been particularly vocal is AfriForum, a white Afrikaner rights collective, whose leaders have met with congressional staff and members of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as HuffPost documented in May.

Have land seizures and expropriations begun?

"Our rural areas are trapped in a crime war", said Ian Cameron, identified as AfriForum's "head of safety".

But South Africa's government said it was ridiculous to suggest white farmers were being persecuted.

People on South African social media were having a field day with Trump's controversial comments on Thursday.

As elections due in 2019 approach, President Cyril Ramaphosa has intervened to accelerate land reform in order to "undo a grave historical injustice" against the black majority during colonialism and the apartheid era. Their claims have been endorsed by figures such as Katie Hopkins, a British commentator who has compared immigrants to "cockroaches".

Earlier this year, Australia also caused a diplomatic tiff with Pretoria after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said white South African farmers who wished to migrate should receive fast-track visas. "That is literally the definition of racism", Carlson said during his show.

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