South Africa hits back at Trump over land seizure tweet

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Trump's tweet on Thursday appeared to reference a segment Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired on the topic the same morning, titled "Inside South Africa's racist land seizures".

But AfriForum, an organization that mostly represents white South Africans, welcomed Trump's intervention and described the land expropriation plans as "catastrophic". "As we begin this work our immediate focus will be on government-owned land".

Trump rarely turns his attention to Africa - the tweet was his first since he became president to mention the continent by name - but when he does it often backfires. Activists like Ramaphosa push land expropriation to fix that "imbalance." "There is a black genocide here in South Africa; just recently a farmer was convicted for the murder of a black farmer".

Whites still own most of South Africa's land, more than two decades after the end of apartheid.

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In his tweet, the president mentioned violence against white farmers, but various reports suggest the number of killings of white farmers hit a 20-year low in the past year.

"Everyone in South Africa should hope that the pressure from the US will lead to the (ruling party) reconsidering the disastrous route that they want to take South Africa on", AfriForum's CEO Kallie Kriel said in a statement on Thursday (Friday NZT).

Ramaphosa said he was convinced that South Africans from across the racial divide were finding each other as the land debate raged on.

The parliamentary committee considering thousands of written and oral submissions on the possibility of changing the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation has until mid-September to submits its recommendations to the National Assembly.

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"We would like to discourage those who are using this sensitive and emotive issue of land to divide us", he said.

Global wire service Reuters reported that South Africa remains a country that is deeply racially divided and unequal almost a quarter of a century after Nelson Mandela swept to power at the end of apartheid, and that Trump's comments were supported by right-wing organisations such as AfriForum in South Africa.

According to a government survey, white farmers possess 72 percent of the farms, despite the fact that white people make up only eight percent of the population.

Last month, South Africa said it would go ahead with plans to amend the constitution, allowing land to be expropriated without compensation. The conspiracy theory is based on the very real - and very controversial - issue of post-Apartheid land reform in South Africa. "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". The South African parliament passed a motion to take back the land.

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The proposal has alarmed white farmers, and white lobbying group AfriForum has spread an untrue story of white farmer genocide in the country. "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".

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