Trump’s Tweet: SA cautions against alarmist, false statements

South Africa on Thursday sent a United States’s representative in the country to convey the unhappiness and disappointment of the people and the government of South Africa to U.S. President Donald Trump over a tweet where he accused the southern African nation of “farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers”.

“The US Charge d’Affaires was informed to convey to Washington that Pretoria is disappointed about Washington’s failure to use the available diplomatic channels,” said Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa’s Minister for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) at a meeting with the American representative on Thursday.

“The government of South Africa wishes to caution against alarmist, false, inaccurate and misinformed, as well as – in some cases – politically-motivated statements that do not reflect the policies and intentions of the South African government,” he added.

Sisulu said 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 programme”.

He 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 historic challenge and that President Trump’s tweet serves only to polarize debate on this sensitive and crucial matter.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa had while speaking to members of Parliament on Wednesday afternoon noted that “South Africa has taken bold steps to address the colonial and historical injustices, including the dispossession of land and build a more inclusive and stable society in South Africa and the world.

“Government supports land restitution and redistribution, which will redress the sins of the past by allowing access to the land in a way that grows the economy, ensures food security, and increases agricultural production.”

Trump’s tweet came late Wednesday in what looked like a reaction to reports on South Africa’s planned land reforms.

Meanwhile, former US Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard has hit out at Trump over his tweet, which he described as “A grenade tossed to hurt one of America’s most important allies in Africa, and ultimately the American people.”

“By blundering into an issue that remains of existential importance for the future of South Africa’s economy, and by lifting up the voices of racist extremists, Trump does great harm to the search for justice in South Africa. He also hurts American interests,” Gaspard wrote in an op-ed in the New York Daily News.