NEWS & ANALYSIS

Complaints lodged against Ramaphosa and Sisulu - AfriForum

President and minister discredited attempts to protect civil rights while at the UN

AfriForum lodges complaints against Ramaphosa, Sisulu at UN for discrediting the organisation's attempts to protect civil rights

21 January 2020

AfriForum today laid formal complaints against President Cyril Ramaphosa and Lindiwe Sisulu (in her capacity as the former Minister of International Relations and Cooperation) with the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders for attempting to discredit AfriForum as a human rights defender and, in doing so, impairing the work that the organisation is doing to promote human and civil rights in South Africa.

This follows Ramaphosa’s statement on farm murders and landgrabs in September 2018 during a visit to the USA. The charge is aimed at Ramaphosa’s reaction to US President Donald Trump’s tweet in August 2018 that Trump had instructed his secretary of state to investigate landgrabs and farm murders in South Africa. In reaction to the tweet, Ramaphosa said in an interview on Bloomberg (an international news channel) that Trump had been misinformed about the situation in South Africa. He said: “There are no killings of farmers, or white farmers in South Africa. There is no land grab in South Africa.”

Ramaphosa’s statements came after AfriForum’s visit to the USA in May 2018 to create awareness of the South African government’s policy of expropriation without compensation (and the associated land grabs), as well as for farm murders. Shortly after AfriForum’s trip, the then South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, responded to AfriForum’s liaison tour to the USA by accusing the US President and AfriForum of spreading “blatant lies” and “misinformation” about South Africa.

AfriForum requests in its complaint that the Special Rapporteur:

Obtain a commitment from Ramaphosa and the South African government that it will effectively protect AfriForum as a human rights defender;

Hold Ramaphosa and the South African government responsible for their alleged attempts at discrediting AfriForum’s efforts to raise international awareness about gross human rights violations, particularly against minorities, in South Africa.

Request that Ramaphosa and Sisulu retract their statements on an international platform.

“Farm murders, the expropriation of property without compensation and landgrabs are serious issues where human rights have already been violated and in respect of which many people’s rights would still be violated if these tendencies are not stopped. The first step in addressing these issues is to admit that it exists. It is very worrying that the South African government ignores these issues locally, but it is unacceptable for the President to completely deny the existence of these crises in the international sphere. The attempts by the President’s spokespeople to contextualise his statements after his return to South Africa did nothing to repair the damage that was done internationally,” says Ernst Roets, AfriForum’s Head of Policy and Action.

AfriForum regards farm murders and land grabs as serious violations of human rights that, according to Roets, should be condemned by all influential role-players and governments worldwide who believe in the protection of human rights. “That is why AfriForum actively campaigns for the international recognition of the crises of farm murders, land grabs and expropriation without compensation. AfriForum will shortly announce further actions to put international awareness of these issues at the forefront.”

Issued by Hesti Steenkamp, Media Relations Officer, AfriForum, 21 January 2020