Just days after the first ‘Zimbabwe-fication’ actions of South African President Ramaphosa’s plan to confiscate white farmers’ land with no compensation and hand them to the black population begins, President Trump – seemingly following a story by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson – has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations” raising concerns that the U.S. might target South Africa with possible sanctions next.
I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2018
The reaction was swift in the Rand…
Here is the Tucker Carlson segment that appears to have triggered President Trump.
* * *
By way of background, we have written extensively on South Africa’s ‘Zimbabwe-fication’ plans, most recently here.
South Africa’s white farmers have been desperately trying to sell their lands at record pace ahead of planned government land seizures, according to a local farmer’s union. However, there are no buyers.
As Ryan Martinez writes for PlanertFreeWill.com, tensions among the country’s white farming community have been rising since the election of Cyril Ramaphosa who assumed office earlier this year and committed his African National Congress (ANC) to land expropriation.
ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe sparked panic last week when he said:
“You shouldn’t own more than 25,000 acres of land. Therefore, if you own more it should be taken without compensation.”
“People who are privileged never give away privilege as a matter of a gift,” he continued. “And that is why we say, to give you the tools, revisit the constitution so that you have a legal tool to do it.”
Mantashe comments were condemned by both white and black farmers, with unions predicting such a move would lead to job losses and a situation in which South Africa may no longer be able to feed itself.
Omri van Zyl, head of the Agri SA union, which represents mainly white commercial farmers, said:
“The mood among our members is very solemn. They are confused about the lack of any apparent strategy from the government and many are panicking.
So many farms are up for sale, more than we’ve ever had, but no one is buying.”
“Why would you buy a farm to know the government’s going to take it?”
The National African Farmers’ Union (Nafu), which represents the country’s black farmers, said the scheme would lead to job losses.
Nafu president Motsepe Matlala said:
“From a practical and economical point of view it will not work.”
“Land will be a central issue in the looming 2019 election year, and rhetoric is always easier than transformative action.”
AfriForum, an influential lobby group, recently warned the government its plans would be “catastrophic”. Ian Cameron, the group’s spokesman, said: “We’re really heading for a state of anarchy if something doesn’t change drastically.”
Local newspaper City Press is reporting that two game farms in the northern province of Limpopo were the first to be targeted for unilateral seizure after negotiations with the owners to purchase the properties stalled.
Analysts warn the move could undermine property rights and deter investment.
In Zimbabwe, violent land seizures which were authorized by Robert Mugabe in the 1990s which sent the country into a spiral of decline from which it has never recovered.
“Markets are sensitive to anything perceived to be ‘Zimbabwe-fication’ on the land-reform front,” market analyst Henrik Gullberg noted.
Agri SA states 20% of South Africa’s farms produce 80% of the food that feeds millions of people in southern Africa, and many of those properties would be affected by a 25,000-acre cap.