Tens of thousands of people have signed petition asking President Trump to allow persecuted white South Africans to emigrate to the U.S., following a vote by the South African parliament to amend the constitution to allow land owned by whites to be confiscated by the government and given to blacks.
Describing the situation for whites in South Africa as an “emergency,” the petition also highlights violent attacks, rapes and murders against whites, which routinely go unpunished by authorities.
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The motion to amend the constitution to confiscate white-owned land is the final straw. White South Africans are now living in fear of a violent and disastrous land redistribution process similar to that which tore apart Zimbabwe in the 2000s, crippling the nation’s economy.
Newsweek reports: The online petition calls on Trump to “take the steps necessary to initiate an emergency immigration plan allowing white Boers to come to the United States.” Boer is the term used to describe South Africans of Dutch, German or Huguenot descent, who are also commonly referred to as Afrikaners.
The petition suggests that Trump should stop admitting refugees from Somalia and the Middle East, claiming they “cannot be properly vetted,” and allow white South Africans, who are suffering persecution based on their ethnicity, into the country instead.
A similar petition, calling on European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May to allow white South Africans into EU countries, has gained nearly 17,000 signatures.
More than two decades after white-minority rule came to an end in South Africa, most of the country’s profitable farming land is owned by white residents. A recent land audit conducted by Agri SA, a South African agricultural industry association, found that white farmers still control 73 percent of the country’s profitable farming land.
Agri SA expressed concerns over the parliament vote, saying that while it “fully understands the need for land reform and the frustration with the apparent slow process and is committed to orderly and sustainable land reform…politics and emotion dominated the debate.”
Dan Kriek, Agri SA’s president, warned that the rights of all property owners in South Africa were at stake. He said that amending the country’s constitution property clause would be a step backward into a past where the protection of property rights was not applied across the board.
Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF opposition party, which introduced the motion told parliament, told lawmakers “we must stop being cowards. We must stop working around the white minorities who are governed by the fear of the unknown when it comes to the question of land expropriation without compensation.”
He said land expropriation would end disparity caused by “criminals who stole our land.”
Malema also said “the time for reconciliation in South Africa “is over,” News.com.au reported. “Now is the time for justice,” he said, adding, “We must sensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.”
Malema has been a strong supporter of confiscating land from white farmers, saying in 2016 he was “not calling for the slaughter of white people–at least for now.”
South African parliament members’ support for land expropriation comes at a time when the Zimbabwean government has established a compensation committee under its land acquisition act to allow for former commercial farmers whose land was seized 18 years ago under Robert Mugabe to be compensated.