Trump orders scrutiny of South African land seizures

by WorldTribune Staff, August 23, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Aug. 22 that he has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study the South African land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.”

Members of political party Black First Land First (BLF). / Getty Images

In the tweet, the president made it clear he was reacting to a Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” story in which Carlson said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has begun “seizing land from his own citizens, without compensation, because they are the wrong skin color. That is literally the definition of racism.”

Under pressure from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF), the ruling African National Congress (ANC) approved a change to the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation. White South Africans, who make up around 8 percent of the country’s population, still own 73 percent of agricultural land, according to estimates from farmers association Agri SA.

The Marxist EEF is the third largest political party in South Africa.

EFF leader Julius Malema declared: “We are cutting the throat of whiteness!”

According to AfriForum, a rights group representing primarily the white Afrikaner minority, South African farmers have been subjected to an escalating campaign of attacks characterized by extreme brutality, rape and torture, with 82 people killed in a record 423 incidents last year.

South Africa has one of the highest homicide rates in the world with 33.9 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, which put it in tenth place globally that year. (El Salvador topped the list, with a rate of 82.8 murders, followed by Honduras with 56.5; the rate for the United States was 5.3.)

“It is plain that the government is using the injustice of the historical denial of property rights to black South Africans to deflect popular anger that has arisen from the near stagnation of living standards and job creation, while seeking to use the emotions stirred up by the ‘land’ issue to unite the fractured (ANC) governing party,” Frans Cronje, CEO of South Africa’s Institute of Race Relations (IRR), said in a letter published in a Johannesburg business daily on Aug. 22.

Ramaphosa criticized South African interest groups who he said “are going around spreading lies and rumors.”

“Running overseas and saying the ANC is out for land grabs. There is no such thing,” he told lawmakers. “The ANC wants to ensure that there is land reform that is going to lead to the growth of our economy and agricultural growth and if we embrace this approach we are going to restore the dignity of our people.”

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