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
UPDATE: Although President Donald Trump’s claims about the so-called “large scale killing” of white farmers in South Africa have already been debunked, the South African government has spoken out to further denounce Trump’s baseless accusations.
After Trump's tweet began circulating the news cycle, the official Twitter account for the South African government shared some posts of its own to counter the American president's divisive rhetoric.
Former United States ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard also jumped into the fray to reject Trump's remarks.
“The president of the U.S. needs political distractions to turn our gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he's attacking South Africa with the disproven racial myth of 'large scale killings of farmers,'" Gaspard tweeted. "This man has never visited the continent and has no discernible Africa policy."
The President of the US needs political distractions to turn our gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he’s attacking South Africa with the disproven racial myth of “large scale killings of farmers”— Patrick Gaspard (@patrickgaspard) August 23, 2018
This man has never visited the continent and has no discernible Africa policy
Gaspard was appointed ambassador by former President Barack Obama and served in the position from 2013 to 2016. However, the Trump administration has yet to appoint a successor, hence Gaspard’s sharp criticism of Trump’s lack of knowledge or connection to Africa.
It's clear that Trump was simply pandering to the white supremacists among his supporters by spreading the false claim that white farmers are being killed in large numbers in South Africa. However, the South African government quickly shut down that fabricated myth, refusing to allow Trump to propagandize their country's affairs to detract from his own scandals.
President Donald Trump is a known avid viewer of Fox News shows and he also blindly believes what the network says even when their own anchors debunk the network’s conspiracy theories.
In the latest example, the president cited a Fox News segment by anchor Tucker Carlson that discussed land seizures and murders. In the segment, the Fox News firebrand said the “South African government is now seizing land from white farmers.”
Trump, of course, picked up the “news” and took to Twitter where he said he has instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “close study” the matter.
"I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and large scale killing of farmers," Trump said in a post on Twitter.
The commander-in-chief also tagged Carlson in the post.
The anchor’s segment and Trump’s response fuel claims by white supremacists groups that imply that the South African government is waging a war on white farmers.
The comments come after all major political parties of South Africa decided that the country is in need of land reforms.
White people make up 8 percent of the country’s population. However, according to the Land Audit Report, after more than two decades since the end of apartheid, they still own most of the country’s land.
72 percent of land is held by white farmers. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to black people by following a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model but the progress has been slow.
As a result, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is forging ahead with plans to change the constitution to allow the expropriation of land without compensation.
Moreover, the killings Trump referred to are at a 20-year-low.
In 2016, 60 white farmers were killed and the number went down to 47 in the year 2017-18.
This is not the first time Trump has peddled a far-right agenda.
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith debunked the widely spread (and false) Uranium One conspiracy theory — a work of fiction his colleagues were pushing.
Smith spoke on the so-called Uranium One conspiracy, which holds that a deal was made between Hillary Clinton, while she was serving as Secretary of State, and Russia, for the transfer of nuclear material to that nation. In exchange, according to this theory, Clinton received millions of dollars in donations to her and her husband’s charity, the Clinton Foundation.
Despite being tied to a false narrative, Trump still encouraged people to look into the theory.
This little bit of pandering to a segment of US white supremacists (he doesn't know the Dylann Roof wing aint that big) is Trump's first mention of South Africa on twitter in 40 months. https://t.co/OR0hq4sz2l— Dan Murphy (@bungdan) August 23, 2018
Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque