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Why Donald Trump must educate himself before he muddies the waters of South African land issues 

August 23, 2018 at 08:30 am | Opinions & Features

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor | Associate Editor

August 23, 2018 at 08:30 am | Opinions & Features

U.S. president, Donald Trump --- Hindustan Times

U.S. president, Donald Trump has tweeted the word ‘Africa’ for the first time as president and it is in defence of whites in South Africa.

Trump is currently having a fallout with South Africans after stating in a tweet that he has directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures”.

His tweet, which comes on the back of his wife’s announcement to travel solo to Africa, seems to be a response to a news report by Fox that centred on South Africa’s land issue and murders of white farmers.

AfriForum, an organization that mostly represents white South Africans who have described land expropriation as “catastrophic,” travelled to the United States earlier this year to lobby the Senate and other officials, news site VIA reports.

The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, last month indicated that his government would go ahead with plans to amend the constitution, allowing land to be expropriated without compensation.

The governing African National Congress’ principle, since its struggle against apartheid, has been on the redistribution of land.

It’s been 24 years since apartheid ended but white people, who make up just 9% of the population, own 72% of the farmland held by individuals, according to government statistics.

Clearly, Trump’s tweet shows that the president seems to be having a “narrow perception” about the situation in South Africa, according to a statement from the South African presidency.

“The presidency has noted Trump’s tweet, which is misinformed in our view,” President Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman Khusela Diko said on Thursday.

“South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception, which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.

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

The statement added that South Africa’s foreign minister will ask the US ambassador for clarification about the tweet.

But even before that, South Africans are already fuming over Trump’s comments.

Perhaps, this is the time for Trump to start thinking about solving his own internal problems, particularly, as talks about his impeachment take centre stage in the U.S.

Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Tuesday, pleaded guilty in a New York court to violating campaign finance laws.

According to him, he had done so at the direction of Trump, for the “principal purpose of influencing [the] election,” news agency BBC reported.

The admission was related to hush money paid to women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs.

On the same day, a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of bank and tax fraud charges.

These developments have raised assumptions that the president may face legal proceedings.

Since there is a legal debate about the prohibition on indicting a sitting president, the only likely threat Trump faces now is the possibility of him being impeached, meaning charges will be brought against him in Congress which will form the basis of a trial.

The US constitution states a president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours”.

The call for his impeachment has been growing, according to media reports, as people are pushing for the Democrats to make this a central campaign matter ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, which is just about 75 days away.

This period of political storm and other pressing matters of social and economic concern should be the priority of the U.S. president than matters of South Africa, which he is even yet to get an in-depth knowledge about.

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