South African farmers have asked Donald Trump "to let us down" after the US president criticized land reform plans and accused him of diverting attention from his own scandals.
"The people were furious with Trump – and I think they still are," said Preline Swart, a 37-year-old farmer from the Western Cape.
"He is an outsider and he knows nothing about agriculture," she said in the margins of a summit of farmers, officials and industry players in Bela Bela, Limpopo.
"I think Donald Trump really should take his long hair … and let our people go to hell," Swart added.
Trump & # 39; s WednesdayTweet, posted on the eve of the "Land Solution" meeting, hit the overwhelming white ownership of farmland – one of the most sensitive post-apartheid issues in the country.
READ: We do not need Trump to solve land reform in SA farmers and agricultural rollers
"I have asked the state secretary … (Mike) Pompeo to study the seizure and expropriations in South Africa and the large-scale murder of farmers", tweeted Trump to his 54 million followers.
His tweet apparently followed a segment about the conservative Fox news about the government's plan to change the constitution to accelerate expropriation of land without compensation to restore racial imbalances in land tenure.
"The South African government is now seizing the land of white farmers," said Trump's message, labeling both the host of the show, Tucker Carlson, and the channel.
Expropriation of land uncertainty
Although many of the farmers at the Thursday and Friday country summit rejected Trump's intervention, many are uncertain about what the government's plan to expropriate land to restore historical injustices will mean for them.
"The vice president assured us that the farmers' government would not do anything reckless," said conference speaker Tshilidzi Matshidzula, 30, a dairy farmer with 1 000 cattle on the farm in the Eastern Cape.
"[But] As a farmer, although I am black, expropriation is a serious concern. The sooner we get formal clarity on how it will be handled, the better. "
As he spoke, other black MEPs congratulated Matshidzula on the speech he had just given on solving land inequality.
According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who keeps cattle on a 5 100-hectare ranch, the white community, which accounts for eight percent of the population, "owns 72 percent of the farms".
On the other hand, "only four percent" of the farms are in the hands of black people who make up four-fifths of the population.
The stark inequality stems from purchases and confiscations during the colonial era that were then laid down in law during apartheid.
& # 39; Alarmist, inaccurate, inaccurate & # 39;
"I am worried about the politicians and politicians in our country if they do not get good (land reform)," said Andre Smith, 49, who grows pecans and other crops on 100 hectares in the North Cape.
"We do not like Donald Trump and his boldness."
The government reacted angrily to the tweet, with officials telling their American counterparts that Trump's remarks were "alarmist, inaccurate, inaccurate and misinformed".
"He does not understand the situation in South Africa, we have to inform him, we have to invite him to visit us", Smith added, overlooking the parking lot of the conference location.
Trump has a long history of sparking controversy on Twitter.
"Donald Trump was stubborn – and not for the first time!" Laughed Whiskey Kgabo, a farmer of more than 30 years who grows mango on his rented 888-hectare plot in Limpopo.
"I have nothing against Donald Trump … but he must first check if this is the position", said Kgabo who spoke with AFP, surrounded by hay bales.
Swart added that Trump, shaken by his long-standing lawyer Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to crimes and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted of federal crimes, "just want something new to talk about".
& # 39; Absolutely not the Zimbabwe solution & # 39;
Jannie de Villiers, 56, chief executive of the trade organization Grain SA, rejected the suggestion of the Fox News segment that South Africa followed the same path as the disastrous attacks by Robert Mugabe from white farms in Zimbabwe.
"I do not think we're there, and I certainly do not think we're going there, it's certainly not the Zimbabwe solution."
Agricultural production collapsed and the Zimbabwean economy almost halved in size after the attacks that began in 2000.
"But we have to tackle the past and that is not an easy process." We have a non-racial consensus that we have spoiled land reform so far, "added De Villiers.
Conference speaker Riedewaan Marcus, 24, a farmer in the Western Cape, supported by the Agri Dwala foundation that supports emerging black agriculture, said he was "not a fan of Donald Trump".
"There is a lot going on in America, and there is a lot going on in South Africa," he said. "Let Donald Trump do his thing and we will do our thing."