No bilateral talks for Ramaphosa and Trump at UN General Assembly

President Ramaphosa
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa and his US counterpart Donald Trump will not have bilateral talks while attending the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York this week, according to a report.

Rather, International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu will meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the “true situation in South Africa”, Netwerk24 reported*.

This followed Trump’s controversial tweet a month ago, when he asked Pompeo to look at “land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large-scale killing of farmers”.

News24 previously reported that in a press briefing that followed, Pompeo’s department said the pair had “certainly discussed it” and that Pompeo would take a look at the issue.

Sisulu admitted at the time to being “taken aback” by Trump’s tweet, which followed a report on Fox News in which it was falsely claimed that the South African government had started with “racist” farm seizures.

‘Blatant lies’

Sisulu spoke to the United States charge d’affaires in Pretoria, Jessye Lapenn, on the same day about the matter.

Speaking at her monthly briefing last month, Sisulu told journalists that “blatant lies are being spread” by some South Africans living abroad, as well as by pressure groups.

Ramaphosa is leading a delegation on a working visit to New York for the 73rd session of the UNGA.

He was expected to outline South Africa’s domestic and foreign policy goals and priorities in his inaugural address at the UNGA, including the country’s land reform programme aimed at fostering greater stability, inclusiveness and transformation within the South African economy, his spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

“The president is further expected to lay out South Africa’s priorities for its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from 2019 to 2020.

“While in New York, [he] will meet with CEOs of major global companies as part of the drive to attract foreign direct investment in order to ramp up the SA economy,” she said.”

This will form part of the build-up to South Africa’s International Investment Conference which will take place on October 26 and 27 with a focus on bringing investment of $100bn [~R1.43tn] into the South African economy over the next five years.”

  • Netwerk24 reporter Sarel van der Walt is a political journalist accompanying the president by invitation of the presidency and the department of international relations, to report on events in New York for Media24’s publications.