Trump accused of trying to ‘divide’ South Africa over farm seizures

South Africa has hit out at efforts to “divide” the nation after US President Donald Trump waded into the country’s debate about land reform.

Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to study South Africa’s “land and farm seizures” and the “killing of farmers”.

South Africa is deeply racially divided over plans to seize land from white farmers as it addresses its apartheid and colonial past.

The rand currency fell more than 1.5% against the dollar after Mr Trump’s tweet on concerns economic sanctions could be imposed.

“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.

“South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.”

It appears to be in response to a Fox News report on the murder of white farmers in South Africa.

The official South African government Twitter account responded: “South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.”

In a follow-up tweet, it added: “South Africa will speed up the pace of land reform in a careful and inclusive manner that does not divide our nation.”

A spokeswoman for South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said Mr Trump was “misinformed” and it would seek clarification from the US embassy in Pretoria.

The ruling African National Congress has proposed the expropriation of land without compensation to address the issue of stolen land during the apartheid era. The policy has not been implemented.

White farmers own 72% of South Africa’s agricultural land, according to the government’s Land Audit Report.

In May, farm lobby group Agri SA claimed farm murders were at their lowest level in two decades, with 47 farmers killed in 2017-18.

South Africa remains a violent country, in 2016-17 the police recorded 19,016 murders.