Afrikaans lobby group AfriForum has welcomed United States (US) President Donald Trump’s tweeted comments that his administration would keep a close eye on South Africa’s land reform policy.
Trump tweeted: “I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 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.”
Speaking on Jacaranda FM, the group’s chief executive Kallie Kriel said since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the ANC will be supporting an amendment to the constitution to make land expropriation without compensation legal, the group had no other option but to seek support from the international community.
Meanwhile, briefing the media on the outcomes of this week’s Cabinet meeting, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said Trump’s tweet “has not determined our approach to the United States or our current relationships and future relationships”.
Mokonyane said such concerns should have been raised through relevant channels existing between the two countries.
“Of importance is that our foreign missions on any issue that is a concluded policy or processes that are underway to deal with policy in government they are forever on board through the Department of International Relations.
“But also Brand SA then looks at investments and looks at informing communities where we have a footprint as well as reaching out beyond what government is able to do,” Mokonyane said.
The minister said Trump’s tweet does not mean South Africa has had a fallout with the United State as the country has not had a fallout with any other state over the land issue.
“What we seek to do is to make sure that everybody understands what is the intention for the South African people led by the South African government,” she said.
The minister said through expropriation of land without compensation the nation should thrive for eradicating inequality.
Mokonyane said the proposed expropriation of land without compensation is not only about economic growth, food security and transforming the agricultural sector but also about changing the human settlement and property ownership patterns in South Africa.
The minister said the land issue should not be a threat to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) – a trade agreement between sub-Saharan countries and the US – but should be seen as an opportunity to bolster small scale and black farmers.
Mokonyane said it is concerning that some South Africans who are expected to be patriots used their links with the international community to cause unnecessary alarm over the land issue.
Speaking at the land solutions summit hosted by agriculture publication Landbou Weekblad and AgriSA on Thursday, Deputy President David Mabuza also discouraged against using the land issue in a divisive manner by distorting it to other states.
“We would like to discourage those who are using this sensitive and emotive issue of land to divide us as South Africans by distorting our land reform measures to the international community that our ‘white farmers’ are facing the onslaught from their own government.
“This is far from the truth. We will do our best to safeguard the estimated R460 billion worth of investment in agricultural assets so that we leverage this for increased investment in the sector.
“We are resolute in protecting the sector to prevent any contraction and threat to food security. Farmers must continue to produce without any fear as land reform is not about destroying production,” Mabuza said.
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