Nelson Mandela‘s grandson slammed President Donald Trump as “ignorant” and “arrogant” on Thursday, following a tweet where the President implied opposition to a controversial land reform program in South Africa.
Trump said late Wednesday evening that he had instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to examine “farm seizures” and “the large scale killing of farmers” in South Africa, echoing a report on Fox News earlier that night that tapped into a common and inaccurate narrative on the far-right that white South African farmers were facing a “genocide.”
“President Donald Trump’s unfortunate tweet shows disrespect for South Africa’s sovereignty and our commitment to justice and redress,” said Nkozi Mandela, a member of the Pan African Parliament, in a statement. “Trump once again demonstrates a total ignorance of reality. We will not be dictated to, threatened or pressured into accepting a land deal that perpetuates the injustices of the past.”
Trump, Mandela said, would “be better served by dealing with his own domestic challenges and the fundamental issues that the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign raises.”
Trump’s tweet referred to the South African government’s plans to change the law to allow the state to seize land from farmers, in an attempt to redress inequality that persists despite more than two decades having elapsed since the end of Apartheid, during which black people were discriminated against in all walks of South African life.
The new policy, Mandela said, is part of an attempt to “find a lasting and just solution and we will bring an end to land poverty just as we brought a peaceful end to apartheid.” He continued, “the issue of the return on the land is an extremely sensitive issue as our people were robbed of the land over three centuries of colonial land grabs and six decades of apartheid.”
In a statement, the South African government said it “totally rejects [Trump’s] narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past.”
State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday at a press briefing that Pompeo had discussed it with Trump and would “take a look” into the issue of land seizures in South Africa.