Published: Fri, August 24, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Trump wades into South Africa race politics with tweet about farmer killings

Trump wades into South Africa race politics with tweet about farmer killings

This tweet followed a segment on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" in which the Fox News host reported that South Africa's government had already started expropriating the land of white farmers without pay, a policy South Africa's government insists it has not implemented and which would require a constitutional amendment that is now working its way through the legal process.

The alleged plight of white South Africans is a major rallying cry of far-right movements across North America, Europe and Australia.

Now some observers say Trump is using his latest Africa comments to try to deflect attention from his sprawling legal troubles at home. Last year, 47 farmers were reported killed, the lowest number in a steady decline since 1998, the peak of the violence, when 153 were killed.

"The injustices of land dispossession in South Africa can be addressed by our constitution in its current form".

Fierce opposition to the plan-and the notion that white farmers have been subjected to "large scale killing" as mentioned by Trump-is a frequent subject of discussion in the corners of the internet inhabited by white supremacists and white nationalists, Reveal journalist Aaron Sankin noted.

The first is that of land expropriation.

Earlier this year, Ramaphosa said that he wanted to see "the return of the land to the people from whom it was taken... to heal the divisions of the past".

South Africa is in the throes of a racially charged national debate over land reform, a lawful process that seeks to correct the legacy of decades of white minority rule that stripped blacks of their land.

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton sparked a diplomatic row with Pretoria in March after he said that Canberra should give "special attention" to white South African farmers seeking asylum because they faced a "horrific" situation.

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AfriForum, a largely Afrikaner organization, has also been trying to drum up worldwide support. More recently, Fox News's Tucker Carlson, one of the president's favorite conservative cable news pundits, has taken up the cause.

Trump isn't the first outside politician to pick up on the issue.

South Africa's leading farming lobby group AgriSA on Thursday praised the government's "commitment to agriculture". "The overall sense of where South Africa is now compared to where it was 10 years ago is there is a slower rate of change than people were expecting".

Trump's tweet knocked the South African rand by as much as 1.9%-though it has since recovered somewhat-and earned a swift response from the ANC government.

The South African government hit back, tweeting that it "totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation".

"As South Africans we must move away from this fear psychosis that has been going around, particularly those that have been spreading lies and rumours".

It is regrettable that the tweet is based on false information, Sisulu said.

"We must transform our land and property ownership, we have got to do it", Ramaphosa said.

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

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