Australia fuels diplomatic spat with South Africa

A diplomatic spat between South Africa and Australia continues to grow after a senior Australian minister refused to backtrack on his efforts to allow white South African farmers to emigrate to the island nation.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton hit a nerve recently when he suggested that South Africa’s farmers should move to a “civilised country” to escape their “horrific circumstances”.

In a radio interview, Dutton said “the numbers of people dying or being savagely attacked in South Africa is a reality. We are looking at ways we can help people to migrate to Australia if they’re finding themselves in that situation.”

It remains a burning issue after Pretoria fast-tracked a plan to expropriate land without compensation to address Apartheid-era injustices.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said white South Africans still own about 72% of farms, followed by mixed race ‘coloureds’ who own 15%, Indians 5% and blacks just 4%.

Ramaphosa said his government needs to create a comprehensive programme of land redistribution that strengthens the property rights of all South Africans, increases agricultural production and improves food security.

“The dispossession of land of the indigenous people of this country is what I characterize as the original sin that continues to constrain our people. The return of land is fundamental to our society, and it is critical to improve the lives of poor people in our country,” he said.