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
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2018
south africa’s president tells trump to mind his own business on the white farmers issue
August 30, 2018
Last week, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of tax evasion. The president’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was also found guilty on eight federal charges of bank and tax fraud. Naturally, Trump’s closest officials being sent to the slammer had him up against the wall, prompting him to do what he does best in sticky situations – pivot and lie. The president decided to try and point everyone’s attention to another part of the world by tweeting about South Africa’s current land expropriation debate as well as the fake ‘white genocide’ pushed by South African right-wing organization Afriforum.
Let’s not even get into the issues around sovereignty that this tweet brings up. Let us instead go to the facts since we know we won’t find Trump anywhere near them. Trump’s tweet was influenced by the poster children for Fake News, Fox News. A report by Tucker Carlson made that alleged South African president Cyril Ramaphosa had already started seizing land from farmers – a report Carlson has walked back because the truth is inconvenient at Fox News.
The president outlines how the ANC is going to break SA. pic.twitter.com/mmGtcBIx0d
— Jerm (@mynameisjerm) August 29, 2018
Ramaphosa responded in kind to Trump’s tweet – the first instance of him tweeting the word ‘Africa’ during his presidency – by reminding Trump that South Africa managed to negotiate itself out of apartheid and into democracy without the United States (Trump in particular) being at the negotiating table. The crux of Ramaphosa’s assertion was “Black and white, we are going to find solutions for our land problem” without the help of Trump and that the American president should focus on the issues taking place in the US. What Trump’s white supremacist dog-whistle politics omits is that the land issue in South Africa has been an ongoing issue for over a century, beginning when the 1913 Native Land Act set aside just 7% of land to Black South Africans while the majority of land was given to white South Africans and farmers. The process of redistribution entails debates, public hearings, and hopefully a publicly supported way forward but no land has been seized yet. That’s racist fear-mongering.
The myth of ‘white genocide’ is an easy solution for Trump rile his base and distract them from his own misgivings. South Africa does have a high crime rate and farms are vulnerable because they are isolated from help. Murders do happen on farms and victims are white farmers but the numbers are nowhere near what anyone with common sense would call a genocide. According to The Guardian “Forty-seven farmers were killed in 2017-18, according to statistics compiled by AgriSA, an association of hundreds of agricultural associations across South Africa.” When looking at the trend of farm murders “This is consistent with a steady decline since a peak of violence in 1998 when 153 died.” Farm murders are decreasing. Those are the facts.
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) August 23, 2018
South Africa has a way to go regarding the issue of justice when it comes to land taken from Black people during apartheid but Trump’s racist antics will only foster more divide, shutting down crucial conversations that need to be had for all to understand the way forward. Obviously, there is going to be push back from white South Africans and even white people around the world but, like Ramaphosa said, that has nothing to do with a fear-mongering president who is watching all his closest allies get carted off the prison, on-by-one.
Maybe he should just sit there and eat his McDonalds.
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