02:05 GMT +319 September 2018
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    Farmer in South Africa. (File)

    Hundreds Gather in New Zealand Against South Africa Land Grab From White Farmers

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    The policy of seizing white farmers’ land, which has gained momentum in recent times, has brought cries of protest from South African expats around the world, with hundreds of people enraged about the amended constitution, marching on Sunday from the Auckland City Hall.

    Crowds of people gathered in downtown Auckland on Sunday to show their opposition to South African farms being seized from white residents without compensation.

    Protesters carried posters reading “Save a Boer, their lives matter too” and “Stop the abuse of minorities,” with some making a direct reference to neighboring Zimbabwe, where the practice of land expropriation from white owners ended in an economic crash.

    "Tell people what's happening to the farmers. Tell them what's happening to your communities. It's important for the world to know what is going on," organizer Arno Nel addressed the crowd from the tribune. He also brought up the burning issue of white farmers being murdered in the country, a topic attracting a lot of attention across the world of late.

    Since apartheid ended in 1994, the government has stepped up the redistribution of white-owned farms in favor of black buyers in an attempt to make up for the country’s previously discriminatory laws.

    Despite the land reform that has been underway for over 20 years, the white population, which makes up a mere nine percent of the population, was found to still own 72 percent of the country’s farmland, according to last year’s estimates. The current state of affairs has prompted the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to make amendments to the constitution to speed up land expropriation from white land owners, commonly known as “Boers”, without compensation, as it is believed to be “in the public interest.”

    The stance infuriated loads of expatriates around the world, with even US President Donald Trump entering the fray. He tweeted on August 23 about the “large scale killing of farmers,” adding he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into the matter.

    In response, the South African authorities referred to the tweet as “false information,” meant “to divide our nation and remind us of our colonial past.“

    Separately, just ahead of a summit in Beijing for Africa-China cooperation, South African President Ramaphosa launched a charm offensive, involving diplomats around the world, to defend their land policy, referring to the opponents’ claims as misinformation, adding that land was “the original sin”  causing a wound that “has to be healed.” “Viable solutions are needed to ensure that all South Africans do enjoy a right to property,” he said.

    The land issue has also been exacerbated by growing economic disparities, with many pointing to the fact that the end of apartheid in 1994 has led to an increase, rather than a drop, in poverty.  Some farmers have warned that forced expropriation could lead to war, with supporters of expropriations vowing to meet violence with violence.

    According to the latest police figures over attacks on farmland in 2016/17, there were 638 assaults on small homesteads and farms in South Africa during the period, with 74 people murdered.


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    Tags:
    land expropriation, land, crime, hate crimes, farmers, murder, protest, Donald Trump, Auckland, South Africa, New Zealand
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