Breaking with Trump, UK’s May endorses South African land reform

Breaking with Trump, UK’s May endorses South African land reform

British Prime Minister Teresa May on Tuesday broke with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE by endorsing a South African proposal for land reform, a practice that Trump criticized in a tweet last week.

"The U.K. has for some time supported land reform in South Africa that will be a legal, transparent and democratic process,” May said in Cape Town during her trip to multiple African countries this week, according to The Associated Press

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She said that she believes the process will encourage economic growth, citing previous conversations between herself and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

She said she does not think the current proposal for the government to seize land without compensation will be a "smash and grab," but will rather responsibly address longstanding racial divisions rooted in the country's legacy of apartheid, the AP reported. 

Trump has not taken an official position on South African land reform, but he criticized the recent proposal under debate in South Africa's parliament based on a Fox News segment by host Tucker Carlson last week.   

Trump claimed in a tweet that he had asked Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Saudi-Russia oil fight is the last thing the economy needs in a pandemic US intel agencies conclude China has under-reported coronavirus cases, deaths: report Susan Rice scolds Pompeo for using 'Wuhan virus' term MORE to "closely study" the issue of the South Africa "land and farm seizures." He suggested the land seizures were leading to "large scale killing of farmers."

"I have asked Secretary of State ... to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers," Trump tweeted. "South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers."  

The tweet prompted a furious response from the South African government. 

"South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past," the government tweeted.

Whites in South Africa hold about 72 percent of the land though they make up about 9 percent of the population.

Killings of white farmers are at a 20-year low, with 47 farmers killed in 2017 and 2018, according to Reuters

South Africa was a British colony from the early 19th century until the early 20th century.