- ANC's tweet on white farmers said it was a 'mistake to consult murderers'
- Party deleted tweet and said it was a quote from a member of the public
- Change in constitution will allow government to seize and re-distribute land
- ANC plan on seizing 139 farms without compensation 'in coming weeks'
- Much of the most productive land in South Africa is still owned by white people
The governing party of South Africa has sparked outrage by posting a tweet on its official account appearing to refer to the white population as 'murderers'.
The African National Congress (ANC) tweeted a reaction to their plans to seize white-owned farms and re-distribute the land, stating that the 'biggest mistake we are making is to consult murderers'.
The ANC later deleted the tweet, and explained that it had been a quote from a member of the public.
It comes as 139 farms are being lined up to be seized by the government in the next few weeks, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced he would be pushing ahead with the expropriation of privately owned land without compensation.
On Thursday, the ANC used an official account to live-tweet from a review hearing in the Western Cape, which saw members of the public give their views on Section 25, which covers the new policy.
The now-deleted tweet read: 'The biggest mistake we are making is to consult murderers. White people are 9% of the population, they own 79% of land.
'They never came and consulted us for the land. If they want us to forgive them now, then let us share the land, the mineral resources.'
However, the shocking tweet was not put in quote marks nor attributed to any single person, sparking furious reactions, with the party being branded 'racist'.
After deleting the tweet, the ANC posted: The tweet is a contribution/remark made by a member of the public. All tweets are a thread from the contributions made by the public, they are not the views of the ANC.'
However, this explanation was rejected by a number of Twitter users, with one person accusing the ANC of 'cherry picking' the views which had been racially divisive and tweeting them as their own.
Another person added: 'You kind of rubber stamped it by putting it verbatim on your timeline'.
One said: 'He who repeats a statement without distancing himself explicitly is considered repeating it out of agreement', branding the ANC's actions 'atrocious'.
Shortly after the Twitter storm, local media reported that the ANC has already lined up 139 farms which they plan on seizing without compensation to their owners 'in the coming weeks'.
Zizi Kodwa, an ANC national executive committee member who was present at the decision to move to expropriate the nearly 140 farms said the move was 'necessary'.
'Both domestic and international investors must appreciate that long-term investment is tied [to] ownership of land by the majority of people,' Kodwa told City Press.
'In other words, if you are talking about sustainable long-term certainty, it is tied to addressing the injustices of the past.'
More than two decades after the end of apartheid, the white population still own most of South Africa's land and ownership remains a highly emotive subject.
White farmers control 73 percent of arable areas and it is widely understood to be that land which could be forcibly seized and transferred to the previously disadvantaged.
The issue of whether to take land without compensating current owners is by far the most divisive and emotive issue facing modern South Africa with critics drawing parallels with Zimbabwe's disastrous reforms.
Until now the government has pursued a policy of 'willing buyer, willing seller' to enable land transfer.
But in February lawmakers voted to establish a commission charged with rewriting the constitution to allow for forcible land transfers without compensation.
Observers have suggested constitutional reform is a ploy by the ANC, which has faced political pressure from the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, to win votes in elections due next year.
'The intention of this proposed amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development and increase agricultural production and food security,' said Ramaphosa.
He has previously endorsed land reform on the condition that it should not hurt agricultural production or economic output.
The ANC alone does not have the two-thirds parliamentary majority required to amend the constitution but would be able to pass changes with the support of the EFF.