Government to step up international communication on land issue

23 August 2018 - 13:37
By Thabo Mokone
Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
Image: KEVIN SUTHERLAND / SUNDAY TIMES Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Government is to intensify its public communication on the land issue‚ particularly with the international community‚ in the face of "an onslaught" following a controversial Twitter posting by US president Donald Trump.

Minister of Communications Nomvula Mokonyane‚ who is also the spokesperson of the cabinet‚ said on Thursday that government international marketing agency Brand SA and the department of international relations have been instructed to "intensify interaction" with the global community to explain where President Cyril Ramaphosa's administration is going with its land transformation policy.

Mokonyane disclosed government's public diplomacy plans on the land issue after Trump entered the SA land debate on Wednesday night‚ with a tweet in which he said he's instructed the US secretary of state to "closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large-scale killing of farmers".

Mokonyane said Trump's social media post "was unfortunate" and government would embark on a global charm offensive to explain the rationale behind plans to change section 25 of the Constitution to provide for the expropriation of land without compensation in the public interest.

"I hope I'm not going beyond the diplomatic line and I know one of things I know would be difficult for me is to be a diplomat. It's unfortunate that a 'first citizen' can say we've amended the constitution (already) but I will leave that to his counterpart and the South African methods of communicating‚" said Mokonyane.

"Brand SA has been doing work but we need to intensify it because we can see that the onslaught is being intensified. We'll be convening here at home (the departments of) Dirco‚ communications‚ land and rural reform‚ the deputy president's office‚ for all of us to say how do we tell about this good intention of SA‚ how do we share with the world what we seek to do on this particular matter?"

Mokonyane said government was also concerned about the emerging trend of "right-wing politics" within the geo-political space.

She said they hoped that Trump's stance on the land debate in SA should not affect the trade relations between Washington and Pretoria under the auspices of African Growth and Opportunity Act.

"This should not be a threat to Agoa‚ in fact it should massify the presence and footprints of South Africans with regard to agriculture‚" said Mokonyane.