Johannesburg - The ANC has slammed US President Donald Trump, saying he is a right-winger who is undermining the US and its important role in global politics by interfering in the domestic affairs of sovereign countries.
ANC head of the Presidency Zizi Kodwa told The Star that the governing party was going ahead with the expropriation of land without compensation.
This is after AgriSA, a major player in the agricultural sector, committed to working with the government on land reform.
“He (Trump) undermines the US by his own conduct and behaviour, and Americans have only got themselves to blame for electing a person like this.
"He is part of the right-wing resurgence throughout the world, which is using migration, land and the economy to say people must accept the status quo and not challenge it,” Kodwa said.
He said the controversial US president was ignorant of the apartheid experience, which included land dispossession.
“This is about the dignity of the dispossessed and about establishing certainty for the future because policy certainty for the future is tied to the ownership of the land. You cannot talk about certainty when you have so many people who are landless. Trump is not the president of the world. He is the president of America and he cannot interfere in the domestic affairs of another country."
Kodwa’s remarks came after Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he had instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations, and large-scale killing of farmers”.
Trump was quoting a Fox News report that the “South African government is now seizing land from white farmers”.
The report came after an editorial by a US think-tank, The Cato Institute, called on Trump to warn Pretoria against amending the constitution to allow expropriation without compensation, and suspend it from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), like Zimbabwe, if it goes ahead.
Agoa is a piece of US legislation aimed at assisting sub-Saharan African economies by allowing them to export duty-free products to the US market.
The rand received timely support from the government’s assurance that the country’s inclusion in Agoa was not at risk after it weakened to R14.47 following Trump’s comment.
The US is one of South Africa’s biggest trade partners. According to the website of the Office of the US Trade Representative, South Africa was the US’s 42nd largest goods export market in 2016, importing goods worth $4.6billion (R66.1bn). In turn, South Africa exported goods valued at $6.8bn to the US in 2016.
Analysts warned that South Africa’s diplomatic relations with America were on life support as diplomatic officials from the two countries scurried around, scheduling meetings in a bid to discuss Trump’s comments.
Earlier, Deputy President David Mabuza dismissed AfriForum and other organisations using the land issue for racial polarisation.
“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, and spreading falsehoods that our white farmers are facing an onslaught from their own government."
Mabuza said the land issue was sensitive due to the country’s history of dispossessions, adding that it was at the heart of ordinary people’s struggles for economic participation.
AgriSA president Dan Kriek said the country was currently in a dilemma due to the historical injustices of the past, which needed to be addressed.
EFF leader Julius Malema also weighed in, saying his party was unshaken by Trump’s comments.
He warned that Trump’s reaction was one of many threats to be expected from those who opposed reform.
“It is a war. We must be prepared for Donald Trump and all of them. We are not scared of them. Actually, we are more determined, after Trump's tweet, to expropriate our land without compensation,” Malema said.
“More backlash is going to come. If South Africans are not ready to expropriate land because they are scared of sanctions, they are scared of backlash - then don’t vote EFF,” Malema said at a media briefing.
“If you vote for us, we are going to expropriate land. Trump will come for us. Britain will come for us. The EU will come for us”. - Additional reporting by Kabelo Khumalo and Noni Mokati