South Africa’s land issue exploded into an international dispute after President Cyril Ramaphosa told US counterpart Donald Trump to “keep your America” in a rant akin to former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe’s outbursts in 2002.

Trump last week, in a tweet, said the US was watching events in Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour.

“I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers’,” Trump said.

The response from Ramaphosa was swift and savage.

“This issue of the land; this issue that Donald Trump fears so much,” said the South African leader.

“I don’t know what Donald Trump with South African land because he has never been here. He must keep his America and we will keep our South Africa, that’s what he must do.

“South Africa is our land. South Africa belongs to all the people who live here. It does not belong to Donald Trump. He can keep his America.”

At the height of Zimbabwe’s chaotic land expropriation exercise at the turn of the century, Mugabe told then British Premier Tony Blair off, arguing the program was non-negotiable.

“We have fought for our land, we have fought for our sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood … So, Blair keep your England, and let me keep my Zimbabwe,” Mugabe told a stunned Blair at the 2002 Earth Summit, ironically in South Africa.

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