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UK Prime Minister backs SA’s land reform programme






British Prime Minister Theresa May says the United Kingdom has for some time supported land reform in South Africa - as it is a process carried out in a legal, transparent and democratic manner.

The Prime Minister said this in response to a question by the SABC at a business forum event in Cape Town ahead of meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Presidential headquarter’s in Tuynhuys on Tuesday.

Her remarks come not long after US President Donald Trump posted a tweet over South Africa’s land reform programme last week, a tweet that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has since described as “unfortunate”.

“The UK has for some time now supported land reform. Land reform that is legal, that is transparent, that is generated through a democratic process,” Prime Minister May said.

She went on to say that SA’s land reform programme is “…an issue that I raised and discussed with President Ramaphosa when he was in London earlier this year. I’ll be talking about it with him later today”.

The Prime Minister said that during those discussions, President Ramaphosa has further briefed her about South Africa’s approach to the talks, which she welcomed. She reportedly went on to say that the support was on condition that there will be no land grabs during the process.

Her remarks come after International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said at a media briefing on Monday that the department had decided not to sit back and allow lobby groups to go around the world spreading false information about SA’s land reform.

“We indicated to the 'Chargè d' Affaires' that what they had reported was unfortunate and it was based on information that was not verified,” she said during the media briefing, adding that she wished they had contacted South Africa first to clarify the information.

Prime Minister hands over SS Mendi ship bell to Ramaphosa

Meanwhile, shortly before SA’s bilateral talks with the UK, the Prime Minister handed over the ship’s bell from the SS Mendi, which sunk in 1917 carrying over 600 members of the South African Native Labour Corps, who perished in the incident.

She said later during a briefing to journalists: “I was honoured today to hand over to you and to the people of South Africa the ship’s bell from the SS Mendi and to commemorate the troops who lost their lives when the ship sank in the English channel over a century ago,” she said, adding that Britain will be forever grateful for their sacrifice.

In response, the President said: “Please accept our gratitude and appreciation for this gesture, which honours the memory and the sacrifices of all those who perished so far away from their homes and loved ones”.   

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