A diplomatic tiff with racial tones is brewing between South Africa and Australia after the Aussies bought into the story that white farmers are being persecuted in South Africa and offered them refugee of sort – as in a proposal to fast track their Visa applications.
This comes after South Africa upped the ante in its land redistribution programme by adopting a resolution to expropriate land without compensation in some cases. This is designed to fast track land redistribution from mainly white people to black people who were dispossessed during the apartheid era. That resolution has caused some white interest groups to raise alarm bells. And so the Australian home affairs department issued a statement saying it was considering as a matter of urgency to take in the South African white farmers.
The South African government has not taken this statement kindly. South Africa’s minister of international relations issued a diplomatic démarche to the Australian High Commissioner, Mr Adam McCarthy. A démarche is a diplomatic petition or protest reserved for extremley serious matters.
In a statement communicating the démarche the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, said South Africa “demands a retraction of the comments made by the Australian Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, related to the South African land redistribution process.
“It was communicated to the High Commissioner that the South African Government is offended by the statements which have been attributed to the Australian Home Affairs Minister and a full retraction is expected.
“The High Commissioner who was accompanied by his Deputy High Commissioner undertook to immediately communicate with the Australian Government to convey the message from the Minister and South African Government.”
The Australians seem to be dismissive of South Africa’s protest.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has been quoted saying the South African government’s demand of a retraction was “over the top”.
McCormack added that “Peter Dutton has made those comments in good faith and you know, I appreciate it’s a delicate situation there but I think it’s a little bit rich to always go asking ministers to retract comments.”
Dutton has been quoted saying “Let’s be frank, if we see in this case – people who are being thrown off their land, being persecuted, I’ve read of people being shot, rapes, all sorts of different things – then I do believe that there’s a role to be played.”