Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu issued a diplomatic démarche to the Australian high commissioner yesterday following statements made by their home affairs minister.
Australia’s home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, who oversees immigration, said the white South Africans deserve “special attention” for acceptance on refugee or humanitarian grounds.
He cited reports of land seizures and violence targeting the white farmers.
Sisulu issued the diplomatic démarche to the Australian high commissioner to South Africa, Adam McCarthy, to demand a retraction of the comments made by Dutton.
It was communicated to the high commissioner that the South African government is offended by the statements that have been attributed to the Australian home affairs minister and a full retraction is expected.
The high commissioner, who was accompanied by his deputy high commissioner, undertook to immediately communicate with the Australian government the message from the minister and the South African government.
Speaking on Radio 702, Sisulu said a few weeks ago she issued a statement assuring the international community that the land issue would go through parliament and due processes would be followed, reaffirming that the South African government will handle the matter responsibly, and so there is no need for panic.
“It has taken us a long time to get here, using various means of making sure that there is an equitable distribution of land,” Sisulu said.
She said Dutton’s response to the motion on land expropriation without compensation was offensive, adding that if the Australian home affairs minister had doubts about the issue he should seek clarity from his country’s high commissioner in South Africa or his South African counterpart in Australia.
Sisulu added when her department contacted the Australian high commissioner, it became apparent that Dutton had not sought clarity from his colleague on the land issue because the high commissioner was “grappling with how to respond”.
“Ultimately, the statement was there in black and white. So we are now demanding a retraction of the statement because it was misleading, it is causing panic, it is harming our image abroad, and we are offended by that,” she said.
Sisulu said Dutton’s comments created the impression that white South African farmers were living under horrific conditions and at risk of losing their lives.