South African farmers to Trump: Mind your scandals


South African farmers say to Trump: leave us alone

South African farmers demanded that Donald Trump "leave us alone" after the US president criticized the country's land reform plans, accusing him of trying to divert attention from his own scandals.

"The people were furious with Trump, and I think they still are," said Plint Swart, a 37-year-old black woman who is engaged in the farming of grain and cattle with her husband to the east of Cape Town.

"He is an outsider and he does not know anything about agriculture," she said on the sidelines of a farmers' summit, officials and industry players in Bela Bela, 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Johannesburg.

The Trump tweet published on the eve of the Land Solution meeting touched the predominant white ownership of agricultural land in South Africa – one of the most sensitive issues in post-apartheid history in the country.

"I asked the Secretary of State … (Mike) Pompeo to carefully study the land and agricultural seizures in South Africa and the expropriation and large-scale killing of farmers," Trump wrote to his 54 million followers.

His tweet appears to have followed a segment of conservative Fox News about Pretoria's plans to change the constitution to speed up the expropriation of land without compensation to correct racial imbalances in land ownership.

"The government of South Africa is now taking over the land from white farmers," said Trump's post, who noted that the show's host, Tucker Carlson, as well as the channel.

"I think that Donald Trump must really take his long hair … and leave our people alone," Swart added.

Although many farmers at the earthly summit on Thursday and Friday rejected Trump's intervention, many are not sure what they would mean for the government's plan to expropriate the land to establish historical injustices.

"The deputy president assured that the government of farmers is not going to do anything reckless," said 30-year-old conference reporter Tishidzi Matsidzul, a dairy farmer with 1,000 cattle on his ranch in the Eastern Cape province.

"(But) as a farmer, although I am black, expropriation causes serious concern. The earlier we get formal clarity as to how this will be handled, the better.

According to him, other black delegates congratulated Matsidzul on the speech that he had just given, on how to resolve inequalities in the land.

According to President Cyril Ramafozy, who himself grows cattle for a ranch of 5,100 hectares, the white community, accounting for eight percent of the population, "owns 72 percent of the farms."

On the contrary, "only four percent" of farms are in the hands of black people, who make up four-fifths of the population.

Severe discrepancy stems from purchases and seizures in the colonial era, which were then enshrined in the law during apartheid.

"I'm worried about politics and politics in our country if they do not get it (land reform)," said 49-year-old André Smith, who grows pecans and other crops on 100 hectares in the Northern Cape province.

"We do not like Donald Trump and his frankness."

The South African government has angrily reacted to a tweet with officials saying that their American counterparts Trump's comments were "alarmist, false, inaccurate and misguided."

"He does not understand the situation in South Africa. We have to tell him we need to invite him to visit us, "Smith added, seeing the parking lot of the conference hall full of Toyota's white pickup trucks, favorite by South African farmers.

Trump has a long history of disputes in Twitter.

"Donald Trump was hot – and not for the first time!" Laughed Whiskey Kgabo, a farmer who has grown mangoes for more than 30 years on a leased plot of 888 hectares in the north-eastern province of Limpopo.

"I have nothing against Donald Trump … but he must first check that this is the position," said Kgabo, who spoke with the AFP surrounded by bales of hay.

Swart added that Trump, shocked by his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to criminal offenses, and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty of committing federal crimes, "just wants something new to be said."

56-year-old Jenny de Villiers, executive director of the Grain SA trade center, rejected the offer of the Fox News segment that South Africa is following the same path as catastrophic removals from farms in poor farmers Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

"I do not think we are there, and I definitely do not think we're going for it. This is definitely not Zimbabwe's decision. "

Agricultural production collapsed, and the economy almost halved in size after the seizures that began in 2000.

"But we need to turn to the past, and this is not easy. We do not have a racial consensus that so far we have spoiled the land reform, "added De Villiers.

Speaker of the conference Ridevaan Marcus, 24, a provincial farmer in the Western Cape Province, supported by the Agri Dvala Foundation, which supports new black agriculture, said that he "is not a fan of Donald Trump."

"There's a lot going on in America, and there's a lot going on in South Africa," he said. "Let Donald Trump do his work. And we will do our business.

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