South African president: Trump 'ill-informed' on land and farm seizures

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is criticizing President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE's remarks about land and farm seizures in his country as "ill-informed." 

Ramaphosa in an interview with CNN said a tweet from Trump in August, which accused the South African government of "seizing land from white farmers," was connected to "fringe groups" who use the issue of land reform to boost white supremacist messages. 

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"These people are ill-informed about what is happening here," Ramaphosa told CNN. "Just as President Trump was ill-informed about the messages that they are beaming out."

Trump apparently sent the tweet after watching Fox News's Tucker Carlson discuss the issue in a segment. The president in the tweet connected the land seizures to the "large scale killing of farmers," though killings of farm murders are at a 20-year low, with 47 killed in 2017 and 2018, according to Reuters

South African officials say the land reforms are part of a reparative process to address racial inequalities following apartheid and centuries of colonial rule. The government is moving forward with a proposal to seize some land from white farmers by revising the country's constitution. 

Ramaphosa said many of those who use the issue of South African farm and land seizures are "racists." 

"In the main, most of them are racists," Ramaphosa said, discussing the people who promote the issue in the U.S. and abroad. "And they are not very positively disposed toward black people. Their voice, a seemingly prominent voice, is because they are talking on race issues and saying there is a racial war. There is no racial war in South Africa." 

"White South Africans are working with us to resolve this issue," he added. 

CNN investigation found that white supremacists often exploit South African land reform in order to promote the myth of "white genocide." 

"Those people overseas that are taken in by this message of whites in South Africa being under threat, they are looking at South Africa through the lens of black versus white," Ramaphosa said. "And South Africa has long moved away from that."  

The Fox News segment over the summer came in response to a proposal in the South African Parliament to seize land from white farmers in order to address the country's material inequalities following apartheid.

Whites in South Africa hold about 72 percent of the land, even though they make up about 9 percent of the population. Non-whites in the country were forced off of land for decades under apartheid and centuries under colonial rule, CNN noted.

"The impact of apartheid on black families was devastating," Ramaphosa said. "In my own family it happened twice, where land was taken, we were moved from where my parents had grown up owning land, working the land, they were moved and dropped into an arid place with no compensation whatsoever."

"As it is now, the poverty that we have in South Africa, in part, has been given rise to by people not having assets," he said. 

Carrie Schneider, the acting spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, told CNN that the U.S.'s official position is that "expropriation of land without compensation risks sending South Africa down the wrong path." 
 
"President Ramaphosa has indicated that land reform would be undertaken without damaging the economy," she said. "While South Africa has the sovereign right to amend its constitution, we believe its decisions should be consistent with the rule of law and preserve the investment climate."   

The Southern Poverty Law Center concluded that Trump helped energize and legitimize racist conspiracy theories with his tweet criticizing land seizures over the summer, according to CNN.