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South Africa’s Misrepresented Land Debate

Reforms Are Needed to Address the Legacy of Apartheid

A man uses plastic to mark vacant land in Olievenhoutbosch near Centurion, South Africa, March 2018.  Siphiwe Sibeko / REUTERS

President Donald Trump’s recent tweet about “farm seizures” and the “large scale killing” of white farmers in South Africa has momentarily directed global attention toward debates about land reform in South Africa. Trump’s tweet—inspired by an inflammatory segment on Fox News—grossly misrepresents a long-standing, complex debate and is just one example of the falsifications and misconceptions that surround the issue. In reality, no farm seizures are taking place, and the murder rate of white farmers (always much lower than that of black South Africans) is at its lowest point in 20 years. 

No farm seizures are taking place, and the murder rate of white farmers (always much lower than that of black South Africans) is at its lowest point in 20 years.

Trump’s misleading tweet aside, land reform in fact has recently resurfaced as a contentious political issue in South Africa. The reason for this is the

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