South Africa's Ramaphosa: Trump is 'ill-informed'

In an exclusive interview with CNN's David McKenzie, the South African leader criticized the US President and said South Africa needs to solve its land dilemma or face instability.

Posted: Nov 22, 2018 6:20 AM
Updated: Nov 22, 2018 6:44 AM

In an exclusive interview with CNN, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa criticized Donald Trump's views on South Africa's land debate and blamed -- in part -- "fringe groups" lobbying in the US.

"They are finding people who get some resonance with what they are saying, and these people are ill-informed about what is happening here. Just as President Trump was ill-informed about the messages that they are beaming out," said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa's comments come as CNN released an investigation proving ties between US and South African far-right groups and a growing belief in the myth of a white genocide of South African farmers.

CNN's investigation shows that those ideas have gained resonance far beyond ultra-right groups and have spread into the mainstream.

"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. And South Africa has long moved away from that," said Ramaphosa.

"In the main, most of them are racists. 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 said.

Some of these groups say that they are just fighting for the rights of minority populations -- in this case White South Africans.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks white supremacists, says that Trump helped legitimize the conspiracy theories.

In late August, after apparently watching a segment on Fox News, Trump tweeted a request for Secretary of State Steve Pompeo to "closely study the South African land farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers."

In response to queries by CNN, the US State Department didn't detail what "close study" has occurred but said Pompeo had raised the issue with his counterpart in late September.

"Expropriation of land without compensation risks sending South Africa down the wrong path. That remains the US position," said Carrie Schneider, the acting spokesperson of the US Embassy in Pretoria.

"President Ramaphosa has indicated that land reform would be undertaken without damaging the economy.

"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 African National Congress-led government is pushing forward with the controversial move by amending the constitution.

For decades under apartheid, and for centuries under colonial rule, non-whites in South Africa were forced off the majority of viable land in South Africa. With democracy, land redistribution was a major policy priority of the ANC-led government.

Still, more than 20 years on, most land is owned by whites.

Ramaphosa admitted the government's goals of land redistribution since the era of Nelson Mandela have been harmed by fraud, corruption and a lack of capacity, but maintains that things will be different during his Presidency.

South Africa's President was the lead negotiator for the ANC in the transition to democracy -- in the land question, he faces, arguably, an even more complex challenge.

Agricultural unions, opposition groups and many commercial farmers say that the expropriation without compensation is unnecessary and risks hurting agricultural production and a fragile economy.

Ramaphosa tried to allay investor fears, saying that land reform could unlock economic potential and pull people out of poverty. He said government land and land lying fallow would be the first to be targeted in an accelerated reform plan.

Ramaphosa has become one of South Africa's richest men by building up a formidable portfolio and taking advantage of his connections with business and the ruling party.

Still, he put the land issue in stark, personal terms.

"The impact of apartheid on black families was devastating. 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," he said. "As it is now, the poverty that we have in South Africa, in part, has been given rise to by people not having assets."

Asked if he feared failing in his mission, the former trade union negotiator was firm about his prospects.

"A lot is at stake. You could even say the stability of the country is at stake. And I am not fond of failing at anything."

Terre Haute
Broken Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 59°
Robinson
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 64°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 63°
Rockville
Overcast
53° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 53°
Casey
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 54°
Brazil
Broken Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 59°
Marshall
Broken Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 59°
Turning Cooler
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 295720

Reported Deaths: 8916
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1454625225
DuPage17786563
Lake17151488
Will14239382
Kane13285326
St. Clair6747192
Winnebago6300151
Madison5828143
Champaign481821
McHenry4653118
Peoria355552
McLean332523
Rock Island307177
Kankakee277677
Unassigned2562244
Sangamon247945
Kendall205425
Tazewell180927
LaSalle175857
Macon163645
DeKalb162239
Coles150831
Williamson142649
Jackson127625
Clinton122221
Adams119910
Boone115323
Randolph95811
Effingham8833
Vermilion8304
Whiteside78421
Ogle7486
Knox7043
Monroe69016
Grundy6876
Henry6795
Morgan67423
Bureau67112
Jefferson64138
Marion5732
Macoupin5677
Christian56511
Franklin5523
Stephenson5486
Union52424
McDonough49015
Logan4691
Crawford4664
Fayette4376
Woodford4327
Livingston4086
Shelby4084
Cass40411
Jersey39817
Lee3941
Montgomery38913
Iroquois36819
Saline3624
Perry35815
Bond3426
Warren3342
Douglas3187
Wayne3005
Jo Daviess2752
Lawrence2633
Carroll2386
Greene23513
Hancock2283
Moultrie2224
Richland2206
Cumberland2195
Washington2191
Jasper21210
Fulton1900
Clark1833
Pulaski1831
White1760
Johnson1630
Wabash1623
Mason1611
Clay1590
Piatt1430
Mercer1415
Pike1391
De Witt1292
Menard1281
Massac1172
Edgar1168
Marshall1110
Ford1085
Alexander851
Scott800
Gallatin752
Hamilton742
Henderson710
Brown690
Edwards680
Putnam630
Calhoun620
Stark562
Schuyler500
Hardin390
Pope301
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 120019

Reported Deaths: 3632
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21671768
Lake10772325
St. Joseph6763116
Elkhart6755112
Allen6411206
Hamilton4997110
Vanderburgh390632
Hendricks2789125
Monroe270837
Tippecanoe265213
Johnson2383126
Clark229357
Porter223347
Delaware204162
Cass19619
Vigo190628
Madison173575
LaPorte153241
Warrick142847
Floyd142064
Howard134164
Kosciusko130117
Bartholomew120357
Marshall102924
Dubois102119
Boone100346
Grant97237
Hancock95143
Noble93532
Henry83027
Wayne78115
Jackson77910
Morgan73940
Shelby68929
Daviess68429
Dearborn67928
LaGrange65111
Clinton64414
Harrison60124
Putnam59211
Gibson5606
Knox54410
Lawrence53029
Montgomery51222
DeKalb50111
White49114
Decatur46339
Miami4394
Greene43236
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3997
Scott39611
Posey3712
Sullivan33912
Jennings31812
Clay3155
Franklin31525
Ripley3098
Whitley2956
Orange28924
Adams2833
Carroll28313
Wabash2758
Starke2747
Wells2734
Washington2702
Spencer2693
Huntington2543
Jefferson2543
Fulton2472
Tipton23323
Randolph2308
Perry22613
Jay1931
Pike1771
Newton17511
Owen1721
Martin1690
Rush1584
Vermillion1330
Fountain1302
Blackford1243
Pulaski1141
Crawford1110
Parke1112
Brown1023
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland680
Warren411
Unassigned0227