Lobby groups must stop spreading 'blatant lies' about land overseas - Sisulu
27 August 2018
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says South African lobby groups opposed to land reform should stop spreading "blatant lies" on the issue abroad, in the interest of domestic stability.
The daughter of struggle stalwarts Albertina and Walter Sisulu also took exceptions to comparisons of their campaign to the struggle against apartheid, saying it was "an insult that has no measure".
Sisulu admitted to being "taken aback" by a tweet by US President Donald Trump last week in which he said he had asked his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to "closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers".
This followed a report on Fox News in which it was falsely claimed that the South African government had started with "racist" farm seizures.
Sisulu spoke to the United States charge d'affaires in Pretoria, Jessye Lapenn, on the same day about the matter.
Speaking at her monthly briefing at the department on Monday, Sisulu told journalists that "blatant lies are being spread" by some South Africans living abroad, as well as by pressure groups.
"There are South Africans out there going to Australia and other capitals of the world spreading untruths about what is happening in this country, and we want to use this opportunity to reach out to them and ask them to desist from spreading untruths about this country," she said.
She didn't name the groups, but AfriForum has led a vocal and international campaign against the ANC's resolution to expropriate land without compensation.
'We struggled against an unjust system'
The protection of property rights is one of the conditions of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which gives South Africa preferential access to US markets, to which it currently exports R112bn of goods and services.
Sisulu said SA was concerned about trade relations with the US and did not want to have "adverse relations with any country", because it needed to attract more foreign investment.
She said the government had gone about the process responsibly. There had been a Constitution-led process underway for the past 25 years since the country's first democratic elections, and those "who have suffered the most and who have been waiting for us to get to this point are getting impatient".
She said the current process of consultations on land reform was "the best way we could have dealt with it", and the process would continue peacefully.
Responding to questions on the issue, she said any comparison between the campaign by these lobby groups and the struggle against apartheid was "downright fabrication".
She said: "When we struggled, we struggled against an unjust system.
"The comparison between those people lobbying international communities against land reform to the struggle, is an insult that has no measure.
"We undertook a struggle to ensure that basic human rights of this country were upheld."
Apartheid was a "brutal system" that was declared a crime against humanity, she said.
"There is no crime that is being perpetrated by this government at all.
"It has taken us a very long time to get here to redistribute land to put it to productive use."
Sisulu added that SA was a land of great inequalities, and this put it at a risk of instability, but much had been done to ensure that there was no instability around the matter.
"Those who lobby will only succeed on those open to be lobbied based on untruths," she said.
Referring to claims that a genocide against white people was underway, Sisulu said these were "blatant lies".
Acknowledging that crime was a problem, she said South Africa's crime statistics "might not be the lowest in the world", but these crimes "aren't aimed at white people at all".
She invited those lobbyists abroad to come home and be "part and parcel of solving the problem that's been going on for so long".