President Donald Trump came to the defense of white South African farmers Wednesday in a tweet that suggested they are targeted for “large-scale killing” over the country’s land reform policy.
South Africa’s government pushed back on Thursday, underscoring Trump’s cluelessness about the proposed policy and demanding an explanation.
“The presidency has noted Trump’s tweet, which is misinformed, in our view. We will take up the matter through diplomatic channels,” said Khusela Diko, a spokeswoman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, the New York Times reported.
As usual, Trump apparently took his cue from Fox News. He fired off a tweet after the network’s host Tucker Carlson accused Ramaphosa, in a segment Wednesday, of seizing white farmers’ land without compensation. President Trump said he asked U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate.
In July, South Africa announced that it would move forward with plans in parliament for a possible constitutional amendment to recover land from white farmers without compensation, BBC reported.
Land redistribution has been a main agenda item for the African National Congress (ANC), which controls the government, since its long struggle to end white-minority rule. The Natives Land Act of 1913 prohibited Blacks from buying or renting land in “white South Africa” and led to the white government taking land from Black South Africans.
Although the ANC has been in political power for more than two decades, the promised land reforms have not taken place. Today, whites represent about 9 percent of South Africa’s population but own about 72 percent of the farmland held by individuals, according to BBC.