S.Africa hits back at Trump over land 'seizure' tweet

Bruce Whitfield

Bruce Whitfield

On Thursday‚ Trump tweeted that he was looking into South Africa's land seizures.

Speaking during a questions and answers session in the National Assembly, President Ramaphosa says there's need to fear land expropriation without compensation.

South Africa has accused US President Donald Trump of seeking to sow division after his tweet referring to the "large-scale killing of farmers".

Trump's tweet also comes after United States think-tank the Cato Institute published an editorial calling on his administration to act against SA‚ possibly by removing it from the Agoa trade deal‚ which allows favourable South African exports to the US.

South Africa's foreign ministry called the remarks, which sources said Mr Trump made during a meeting on immigration legislation, "crude and offensive" and said Mr Trump's subsequent denial was not categorical.

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

Since 1994, South Africa has been working to redress land dispossession that occurred during and before apartheid.

He was intervening in an ongoing debate about whether South Africa should implement a policy of seizing land without paying for it in a bid to address inequalities built up during apartheid and colonial rule.

"South Africans are dealing with the hard issue of land reform through an open process including public hearings, broad-based consultations, and active civil society engagement", the statement said. South Africa is the biggest beneficiary of the African Growth & Opportunity Act, which grants many of its products duty-free access to U.S. markets.

The 17 million people who reside there, a third of the population, are mostly subsistence farmers working tiny plots on communal land. They are largely controlled by tribal authorities, rather than ordinary residents and farmers.

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