The department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) has slammed statements made by an Australian politician, who says his country is examining the fast-tracking of visas for white South African farmers because of the dangers they apparently face in South Africa.
Australia’s minister for immigration and border protection, Peter Dutton, reportedly said that his department is considering fast-tracking the visas of white South African farmers looking to emigrate to Australia, because the group deserves “special attention” owing to the “horrific circumstances” they face in South Africa.
It is not clear whether Dutton was referring to farm-murder statistics, or the South African government’s recent undertaking to explore land expropriation without compensation.
Dirco spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said President Cyril Ramaphosa and other ministers have made it clear that the process of land redistribution will be “orderly, within South African laws, and taking into consideration both social and economic impact”.
“We call on organisations like AfriForum who are spreading wrong information to cause panic and fear to refrain from doing so. The South African government has been very clear; the matter is now before Parliament and all stakeholders [will] be consulted – and they can also engage with Parliament,” Mabaya said.
“There is no reason for any government in the world to suspect that a section of South Africans is [in] danger from their own democratically elected government. That threat does not exist.”
Dutton, saying: “If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance they (white farmers) … from what I have seen they do need help from a civilised country like ours”.
African Farmers Association chief executive Neo Masithela said Dutton’s statements are “ridiculous”.
“[Dutton] should have at least checked with his counterpart in South Africa (Malusi Gigaba), the president, the embassy, or various agricultural unions like Afasa or AgriSA. It is unfortunate that he made such statements on the whim of his views,” Masithela said.
“We have taken a decision that all agricultural unions in South Africa meet to help farmers in the country, black and white. We are coming together to help everybody understand this parliamentary process.”
Masithela said it is concerning that politicians and various groups want to address land expropriation without compensation from a racial position.
“It must be addressed from a socioeconomic position. I doubt white South African farmers will make the move to Australia.”
Alana Bailey, deputy chief executive of AfriForum responsible for international liaison, said Dutton clearly takes in a “serious light” issues such as the high occurrence of farm attacks, crime statistics and the government’s steps to make expropriation without compensation possible, while the South African government “simply ignores or shrugs these off as unfounded fears”.
“It must serve as a warning that South Africa runs the risk to lose even more productive, loyal citizens, should their concerns about issues such as property rights not be listened to in earnest and actions not be launched to address problems such as crime in the country,” she said.
However, Bailey told HuffPost that AfriForum does not encourage the emigration of farmers.
“We would not want our food producers to emigrate, but it is a huge decision. It may look like an easy alternative, but it might have harsh consequences in the future.”