International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Monday said South Africa welcomed Australia's retraction of controversial comments its home affairs minister made about fast tracking visa applications for local white farmers who want to relocate to that country because "they were being persecuted".
Last month Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who also holds the ministerial post for immigration and border protection, claimed white South African farmers “deserve special attention” because of the “horrific circumstances” of land seizures and violence in the country.
The comments drew sharp criticism from South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco).
However, on Monday, Dirco said in a terse statement that Sisulu welcomed the Australian leaders' retraction of the comments made by their home affairs minister.
"The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon Lindiwe Sisulu, has noted and welcomed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Jullie Bishop’s retraction of the comments made by their Home Affairs Minister, Mr Peter Dutton, on the South African land redistribution process," said the statement.
Sisulu was quoted as saying: “We welcome the assurance by the Australian government as reported in the media that the comments made by their Home Affairs Minister are not in line with Australian immigration policy. We also welcome Australia's condemnation of the unfortunate comments by South African and other international organisations and leaders".
She added: "We must emphasise, as we have stated before, that no one is being persecuted in South Africa, including white farmers. We call upon all non-governmental organisations to desist from spreading untruths and misleading information".
Sisulu said South Africa is a law abiding country and, through a Constitutional process, it will arrive at solutions on land redistribution that will take the country forward without violating anyone’s rights.
"South African diplomatic channels are always open to those who may wish to seek clarity on our country’s policy positions," the statement said.