US ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks says that some of president Donald Trump’s remarks about South Africa have been misunderstood and that he has a clear policy direction for the country.
Speaking in an interview with 702, Marks said that Trump sees South Africa as an ‘anchor’ for the rest of the continent, acting as a role model and example for other countries.
“He is very supportive, particularly with trade and investment. It’s an incredible time because President Cyril Ramaphosa is also a businessman and they share business interests, and they share golf, so it’s a great time.”
When asked about previous comments made by Trump in which he called South Africa a ‘crime-ridden mess ready to explode’, Marks said that this was born out a misunderstanding of Trump.
“President Trump is a blue-collar billionaire. He used to go on building sites in New York and speak the language. So what he is really saying – if I may interpret that – is that these are obstacles to increasing an incredible relationship with South Africa’.
“Don’t let obstacles get in the way of huge investment in South Africa and a huge partnership. He is talking about the negatives that we need to address and President Ramaphosa is addressing,” she said.
Marks acknowledged that Ramaphosa inherited the current state of the country and that she has ‘full confidence’ and that he can help turn the country around and lower the crime rate.
“All the errors that President Trump has addressed in the past is just him illustrating the problem areas. He doesn’t want to interfere with the big picture.”
When asked about Trump’s previous tweets about farm murders and land expropriation, Marks said that this fell under his general issue of crime and that farm murders were a focus because they were simply more high-profile.
She added that the South African government’s current efforts around land expropriation have been ‘very transparent’.
“We want to make sure that the current climate for investment remains solid so that we can bring in huge investment.
“There have been no farms confiscated to the best of our knowledge, things are on track on the moment, and we just want to focus on (the) positive aspects of our relationships”.
She said that Trump’s comments were perhaps just ‘warning signs’ stating ‘don’t let these things interfere’.
Trump raised eyebrows in 2018 after he tweeted that the South African government was ‘seizing land from white farmers’.
He subsequently asked his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to study the seizure and expropriation of land in South Africa, along with the killing of farmers.