Radical South African politician Julius Malema confirmed President Donald Trump’s concerns Thursday, declaring defiantly that the point of the country’s proposed new “expropriation without compensation” policy would be to take land from white farmers.
“Through land expropriation, we are forcing white people to share the land which was gained through a crime against the humanity of black and African people,” Malema said in a press conference, referring to the racist land policies of colonialism and apartheid.
On Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump’s tweeted that he had directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.”
He appeared to be reacting to a segment on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News that evening, during which Carlson highlighted a State Department statement on South Africa’s proposed land reforms that seemed to defend the South African government’s approach and downplay criticisms.
The South African government reacted angrily: “South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.” Trump’s domestic critics accused him of racism, and spreading fake news.
But South African critics of the proposed land reform policy applauded Trump for speaking out, and the most radical supporters of the policy — like Malema — confirmed the racial motivations behind the new policy, while daring the United States to do anything about it.
“We must put it on record, unequivocally, that Donald ‘the pathological liar’ Trump, we are not scared of you and your USA or Western imperialist forces,” said Malema, the leader of the small but vocal Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party.
“We are not the generation that is going to kneel at the statue of Western imperialism and accept to live in the indignity of black landlessness”.
“Stay out of South Africa’s domestic affairs,” Malema also said, echoing a demand once made by the apartheid regime.
The South African government, which is run by the African National Congress (ANC), has been at pains to calm the fears of land-owners and investors, while at the same time appeasing populists in its own ranks and in the EFF with promises of redistribution.
While not the “white genocide” claimed by some on the American right, the situation has provoked many South Africans – black and white – to worry that the ANC could soon emulate neighboring Zimbabwe, where farm seizures led to economic collapse.