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South African government cautions against politically-motivated statement on its land reform | Coastweek

SOUTH AFRICA -- Sugar fields north of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal [top left], Sheep farm in Gauteng [top right], Vineyard in Stellenbosch [lower right] and Grain elevator and silos [lower left] in the Free State: Agriculture in South Africa contributes around ten per cent of formal employment, relatively low compared to other parts of Africa, as well as providing work for casual laborers and contributing around 2.6 percent of GDP for the nation. Due to the aridity of the land, only 13.5 percent can be used for crop production, and only three percent is considered high potential land. According to FAOSTAT, South Africa is one of the world's largest producers of: chicory roots (4th); grapefruit (4th); cereals (5th); green maize and maize (7th); castor oil seed (9th); pears (9th); sisal (10th); fibre crops (10th). The dairy industry consists of around 4,300 milk producers providing employment for 60,000 farm workers and contributing to the livelihoods of around 40,000 others. The South African government has set a target of transferring 30 per cent of productive farmland from whites to 'previously disadvantaged' blacks. Land reform has been criticised both by farmers' groups and by landless workers, the latter alleging that the pace of change has not been fast enough, and the former alleging racist treatment and expressing concerns that a similar situation to Zimbabwe's land reform policy may develop, a fear exacerbated by comments made by former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. On 27 February 2018, the National Assembly voted to set in motion a process to amend the Constitution so as to allow for the expropriation of land from white farmers without compensation. PHOTOS - WIKIPEDIA

South African government cautions against any
politically-motivated statement over land reform

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- As the latest development in its diplomatic spat with the United States, the South African government has cautioned against politically-motivated statements on the land reform it is pursuing.

Alarmist, false, inaccurate, misinformed and, in some cases, politically-motivated statements do not reflect the policies and intentions of the South African government, the government said in a statement posted on its website on Friday.

This was the message conveyed to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, according to Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesperson of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

On Thursday, DIRCO called the U.S. Embassy to convey the unhappiness of the South African people and government over a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump, Mabaya said.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he had asked his Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to closely study the South African land seizures and expropriations, and the large scale killing of farmers.

"(The) South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers," Trump tweeted.

Later, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a press briefing that the South African government risks going down the wrong path if it continues with land expropriation without compensation.

Trump’s tweet was based on false information and lobbying by certain South African lobby groups that seek to derail and frustrate the land redistribution program, the DIRCO statement said.

"The U.S. Charge d’Affaires was informed to convey to Washington that Pretoria is disappointed about Washington’s failure to use available diplomatic channels," said the statement.

According to the statement, DIRCO also urged the Charge d’Affaires to indicate to Washington that the people of South Africa, of all races, are working together through Parliament and other legal platforms to find a solution to the land issue.

Trump’s tweet "serves only to polarize debate on this sensitive and crucial matter," the statement said.

At the end of the meeting, the Charge d’Affaires committed to convey the message to Washington immediately, said the statement.

The latest development came as South Africa’s Parliament is accelerating a process to amend the Constitution to cater for land expropriation without compensation.

AgriForum, an association of South African farmers, has launched an international campaign to get the South African government to stop its land reform.

The group insists that land expropriation without compensation will drive away white farmers, kill jobs and threaten food security.

In its message to the Trump administration, DIRCO reiterated the government’s position that land grabs and anarchy will not be allowed in the process of finding a solution to the land issue.

In this regard, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has directly addressed investors and agricultural associations and will continue this process of engagement and consultation with all stakeholders to find solutions that are in the best interest of the country, the economy and the people of South Africa, DIRCO said.
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EARLIER REPORT:

United States attacks South African land reform as "down the wrong path"

WASHINGTON United States (Xinhua) -- As South Africa has been mulling measures on land reform, the U.S. State Department said here on Thursday that the current policy would send the country "down the wrong path."

Speaking at a press briefing, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that U.S. President Donald Trump had discussed South Africa with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and asked him "to look closely at the current state of action in South Africa related to land reform."

"This is something that has been going on for many decades, the conversation and debate about land reform there," she said. "I should mention that the expropriation of land without compensation, our position is that that would risk sending South Africa down the wrong path."

Nauert said "we continue to encourage a peaceful and transparent public debate about what we consider to be a very important issue, and the South Africans certainly do as well."

"If policies are poorly—poorly implemented, there are potentially detrimental political, socioeconomic and other issues," she said.

Nauert noted that U.S. embassy officials have held meetings with the South African government over the issue on Thursday, but did not give more details of the meetings.

South Africa’s Parliament was accelerating a process to amend the Constitution to cater to land expropriation without compensation. President Cyril Ramaphosa said Wednesday that the country will experience instability without a successful land reform.

A program of land redistribution was required to heal the historical "festering wound" of land dispossession and enable transformation and development, Ramaphosa told the Parliament.

On Wednesday’s late night, Trump tweeted that "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," adding that the government is seizing land from white farmers.

In response, the South African government tweeted that "South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.

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

The South African government was also seeking clarification over Trump’s comments.

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu said on Thursday that Trump’s remarks were "unfortunate" and based on false information.

Sisulu said she will communicate with Pompeo on the matter through diplomatic channels.

AgriForum, an association of South African farmers, has launched an international campaign to get the South African government to stop its land reform.

The group insists that land expropriation without compensation will drive away white farmers, kill jobs and threaten food security.

The government said the land reform should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.
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SEE ALSO:

Land reform is key to successful South Africa
stability says President Cyril Ramaphosa

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FURTHER READING:

South Africa government rejects U.S. President Donald Trump’s farm ‘seizure’ claims

             

 

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