South Africa temporarily withdrew an expropriations bill enabling the country to make compulsory land purchases from white farmers to redress racial disparities rampant during the apartheid.
The bill was withdrawn to pave way for a potential constitutional amendment allowing the government to expropriate land without compensation. The Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party crafted the bill, which was never signed, as part of a so-called “land reform” program to even the disparity in property ownership between the black majority and white minority.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa — and his party, African National Congress (ANC) — reassured lawmakers in March that any redistribution program would be done in a way that does not disrupt normal farming operations. ANC widely supports an amendment authorizing expropriation.
Some lawmakers in the Democratic Alliance (DA) party, along with agricultural economists, worry the program could suffer the same fate as one Zimbabwe created in the early 2000s, which effectively seized land from white farmers. Zimbabwe, under the direction of former dictator Robert Mugabe, seized and redistributed land from about 4,000 white farmers to landless black people to compensate them for years of colonial rule.
ANC’s land reform plan is at odds with the policy preference of former president and human rights icon Nelson Mandela, who allowed the white minority to keep their property and assured them they would receive fair compensation if and when the government purchased their land.
“I have asked Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large-scale killing of farmers,” Trump wrote. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers,” he added, tagging Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who had aired a segment about the expropriation bill the night before.