State Dept warns South Africa of ‘wrong path’ amid land expropriation row

State Dept warns South Africa of ‘wrong path’ amid land expropriation row

South Africa rejected a tweet by Donald Trump about the country's land reform policy and the "large scale killing" of farmers saying the U.S. president was "misinformed".

Yet analysts say South Africa is unlikely to follow the route of Zimbabwe, where the chaotic and violent seizure of white-owned farms under former president Robert Mugabe triggered economic collapse.

Trump's tweet appeared to be a response to a Fox News report that focused on South Africa's land issue and murders of white farmers.

Trump's comments have inflamed an already high-octane debate over land in South Africa, a country that remains deeply racially divided and unequal almost a quarter of a century after Nelson Mandela swept to power at the end of apartheid.

Expropriation of land without compensation "would not be a good thing" and would send South Africa "down the wrong path", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters amid a diplomatic row with Pretoria.

As elections due in 2019 approach, South African 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 that ended in 1994.

Representatives of the agriculture business in South Africa condemned Trump's "volatile" statements at a critical time.

On 1 August, Ramaphosa announced that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) would move forward with plans to change the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation, a motion passed by parliament in February.

Lindiwe Sisulu, the South African foreign minister, said Mr Trump's tweet had been based on false information and urged Washington to...

Julius Malena, the popular young politician that heads the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), advocating land seizures without compensation, responded to Trump's tweet on Thursday: "They will kill us for that".

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On Thursday, far-right South Africans - and white supremacists around the world - were overjoyed to see their claims gaining the president's attention, as documented by Right Wing Watch's Jared Holt.

Land reform is one of South Africa's biggest unresolved issues, and Ramaphosa is under pressure from the left in his party to deal with it.

The conspiracy theory originally sprouted from a plan by the South African government to amend the country's constitution to allow the government to seize land without compensation. "There is black genocide in the US; black people are killed every day".

So say what you want about South Africa - that it is a very unsafe country with a very racist population and a very high murder rate, and even mass killings across the country - but 47 in one year is a minuscule number compared to the total number of murders and is nowhere near the level of mass killings or genocide of white farmers. "There is a black genocide here in South Africa; just recently a farmer was convicted for the murder of a black farmer".

"Countries which rely on rabid nationalism and xenophobia and doctrines of religious or racial superiority. eventually those countries find themselves consumed by civil or external war", he said, in a speech widely interpreted a rebuke to Trump's worldview.

"South Africa will speed up the pace of land reform in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our nation", it added.

The most shocking example came earlier this year when Trump reportedly called African nations "s***hole" countries.

AfriForum, an organisation that mostly represents white South Africans who have described land expropriation as "catastrophic", travelled to the United States earlier this year to lobby the Senate and other officials.

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

"The issue of the return on the land is an extremely sensitive issue as our people were robbed of the land over three centuries of colonial land grabs and six decades of apartheid", he continued.

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