South Africa to US envoy: ‘Disappointed’ Trump would ‘polarize debate’ with tweet

South Africa to US envoy: ‘Disappointed’ Trump would ‘polarize debate’ with tweet
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South Africa's government summoned the U.S. envoy on Thursday following President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE's tweet about land seizures to express that the government was "disappointed" that Trump had chosen to publicly attack the country's policies rather than make the criticism through established channels.

The Associated Press reported that South Africa’s government says it informed U.S. Charge d’Affaires Jessye Lapenn that the president's tweet accusing the country of "large scale killing" of farmers was based on "false information."

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The tweet served “only to polarize debate on this sensitive and crucial matter," the government added, according to the AP.

The president tweeted about the issue late Thursday, indicating that he had directed the State Department to look into the matter after seeing a report on the issue from right-wing Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

"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,'" the president tweeted.

Trump's comments center around a South African program working to distribute land to black farmers who were forced off their lands by white officials working under the country's old racist apartheid system.

According to an AP fact check of the situation, there is no evidence of "widespread killings" or that white farmers are being targeted by the country's government. Murders on farms, which are largely in isolated, rural areas, are a reflection of the country's wider security problems, according to experts.

However, the South African Parliament is considering a change to its constitution that would allow for the government to seize land without compensation. 

On Wednesday, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa told the country's parliament that the redistribution plan was necessary to redress historical injustices.

“The acceleration of land redistribution is necessary not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation,” Ramaphosa said.