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Trump Tangles with South Africa on Confiscation of White Farmers' Land

Trump Tangles with South Africa on Confiscation of White Farmers' Land

He fired off a tweet after the network's host Tucker Carlson accused Ramaphosa, in a segment Wednesday, of seizing white farmers' land without compensation.

This was in response to a local journalist who asked her if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took Trump's tweet "seriously at all" because the journalist had not been able to find any reference to what the president had said in the department's human rights report for South Africa. The plan would allow the government to seize land without compensation.

Even though apartheid ended in 1994, the white community that makes up eight per cent of the population "possess 72 per cent of farms" compared to "only four per cent" in the hands of black people who make up four-fifths of the population, Ramaphosa said.

In parliament on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said land expropriation could make more land available for cultivation, and that the process would begin by seizing state-owned land, not privately held land.

Stremlau said the controversy caused by Trump's tweet was not good for race relations in either the US or South Africa.

The South African government tweeted on Thursday that it "totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide the nation and reminds it of its colonial past".

The South African government, which is run by the African National Congress (ANC), has been at pains to calm the fears of land-owners and investors, while at the same time appeasing populists in its own ranks and in the EFF with promises of redistribution. In South Africa, land reform remains one of the thorniest post-Apartheid issues.

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Critics of expropriation without compensation have pointed to neighbouring Zimbabwe, which saw some violent attacks on white farmers, alongside the seizure of their land, which has been widely blamed for the the country's economic collapse. Earlier this year, American white nationalist leader Richard Spencer described a "war that is now being waged on South African whites".

The current land expropriation effort dates back to the Native Land Act of 1913, which limited South African land ownership by Africans to 7 percent and was eventually nudged up to 13 percent. As usual, unpacking what's happening in South Africa is hard as the situation is complex.

THE FACTS: While the killings of farmers have been taking place for more than 20 years and are widely seen as part of South Africa's high crime rate, experts say white farmers have not been the target.

Nauert toned down Mr. Trump's language, suggesting that massive land seizures were underway and did not repeat the president's suggestion that large numbers of white South African farmers had been killed. "In Zimbabwe, we saw the government there squash civil society, shut down the media from doing their jobs in reporting and destroy an independent judiciary and we have not seen that happen in South Africa so I think they are different situations altogether".

"Donald "the pathological liar" Trump, we are not scared of you and your United States of America or Western imperialist forces", he said at a press conference.

South African Deputy President David Mabuza aimed to dispel "falsehoods" associated with the proposal while speaking at a land summit on Tuesday.