On Thursday U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” He then quoted Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” The tweet reflected a common talking point among white supremacists, as well as by AfriForum, a conservative South African lobbying group that Carlson had interviewed, and that its critics paint as an organization of Afrikaners nostalgic for apartheid.

It injected Trump into one of South Africa’s most divisive national issues: In December, the country’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) adopted a resolution to redistribute land to black South Africans without compensating landholders. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the ANC has been paying for farms owned by white landowners to redistribute them to the country’s black, majority population. The new...

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