Donald Trump has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to monitor ‘farm seizures and the killing of white farmers’ in South Africa.
He made the announcement in a tweet at 3.30am on Thursday after apparently watching a Fox News report on land reform in the country.
Trump wrote: ‘I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews’
President Donald Trump claimed there is a ‘large scale killing of farmers’ taking place alongside the South African government’s land seizing project
The President has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to monitor ‘farm seizures and the killing of white farmers’ in South Africa, announcing this in an early morning tweet.
South Africa’s official government Twitter account hit back within hours saying ‘South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past’.
‘South Africa will speed up the pace of land reform in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our nation,’ the government wrote in a second post.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesman added: ‘The presidency has noted Trump’s tweet, which is misinformed in our view.’
‘We will take up the matter through diplomatic channels.’
Mr Ramaphosa announced on 1 August he will push ahead with plans to change the constitution to allow the government to seize land without compensation.
As elections due in 2019 approach, he has intervened to accelerate land reform to ‘undo a grave historical injustice’ against the black majority during colonialism and the apartheid era that ended in 1994.
Retort: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called Trump ‘misinformed’
South Africa’s official government Twitter account said Trump’s ‘narrow perception only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past’
Twenty-four years on and the white community that makes up eight percent of the population ‘possess 72 percent of farms’ compared to ‘only four percent’ in the hands of black people who make up four-fifths of the population, according to Ramaphosa.
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.
Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night described the land reform policy as ‘literally the definition of racisim’ because it ‘makes it possible to steal land from people because they are the wrong skin colour.’
White farmers have repeatedly suffered violence since the end of apartheid over the thorny issue.
There were 47 murders last year. The number peaked at 153 in 1998, according to AgriSA, an association of hundreds of agricultural associations across South Africa.
Earlier this week, MailOnline reported that a luxury £10million hunting lodge was among Mr Ramphosa’s targets for expropriation.
Johan Steenkamp and Arnold Cloete, co-owners of the Akkerland Boerdery hunting farm in Limpopo province, said they were ordered to hand over their land after talks to buy it at a tenth of the price broke down.
This £10million farm, the Akkerland Boerdery, is set to be seized by the government after just 10 percent of the asking price was offered
Left: Farmer Johan Steenkamp. Right: Pictures posted on the Akkerland Boerdery Facebook page show families hunting game
The hunting lodge’s Facebook page shows several pictures of the farm and wild animals
Steenkamp and Cloete asked for 200million rand (£10.7million) for their reserve but were only offered 20million rand (£1.07million).
A letter they received earlier in the year said: ‘Notice is hereby given that a terrain inspection will be held on the farms on April 5, 2018 at 10am in order to conduct an audit of the assets and a handover of the farm’s keys to the state.’
The farmers have obtained an injunction, which was opposed by the government, to prevent eviction until a court rules on the case.
Mr Steenkamp said the decision to take his land was made on ‘very short notice’ during a public holiday.
He said he was given notice to hand the keys over to his farm within seven days.
Annelie Crosby, spokeswoman for the agricultural industry association AgriSA, told the Johannesburg based CityPress: ‘What makes the Akkerland case unique is that they apparently were not given the opportunity to first dispute the claim in court, as the law requires.’
Government spokesman ZiZi Kodwa said: ‘Over time I think the markets as well as investors will appreciate that what we are doing is creating policy certainty and creating the conditions for future investment’.