Until the wee hours of Thursday morning, watching Donald Trump had been a spectator sport for South Africans, who have delighted at mocking his crazy comments on matters as diverse as immigrants, Canadian politics, Amazon and North Korea. All that changed when the US president launched a Twitter assault on SA’s land expropriation plans and what he called the "large scale killing of farmers". Trump’s tweet appears to have been brought about by two events. The first was his crumbling ability to see off legal challenges to his presidency as his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of bank and tax fraud, and the guilty plea entered by his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on charges of campaign finance violations. These events called for a distraction. The second, and perhaps more proximate, cause of Trump’s Twitter assault was the airing of a six-minute diatribe against President Cyril Ramaphosa and land expropriation by the right-of-centre Fox News channel. Tr...

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