Foreign Policy Digital

There’s a Better Way to Take White Farmers’ Land

South Africa needs to redistribute property—but not all appropriation is made the same.

The fate of South African farmers is now a turf war on Twitter: U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted this week that he wanted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to examine land seizures and “large scale killing of farmers” in the country. His comments generated swift condemnation from South Africa, where issues of land ownership are explosive and racially charged.

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s impressions of the issue are ill-informed (farm murders are at a 20-year low). But the importance of South Africa’s long struggle over rural property ownership is undeniable. Land appropriation was at the core of the colonial project in South Africa, and its redistribution has consequently been a cornerstone of efforts to democratize economic and political opportunity ever since. Fortunately, there is a solution to be found that takes a middle ground between

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