Jacob Zuma comments won’t affect relations – Malawi

2013-10-25 11:04

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Malawi said today South African President Jacob Zuma’s recent controversial remarks, which implied it was backward, would not damage relations between the two nations.

Zuma was left red-faced after making disparaging comments on Monday about roads in the fellow southern African country, where South Africa’s top diplomat was summoned to explain his remarks.

However, meetings with High Commissioner Cassandra Makone and Deputy Foreign Minister Marius Fransman, who flew to Lilongwe to make amends, appeared to have soothed tensions.

Zuma’s remarks “will definitely not have a negative impact on Malawi-South Africa’s bilateral relations,” Malawi foreign affairs spokesperson Quent Kalichero told AFP.

In a bid to convince South African motorists to accept a highly controversial plan to toll highways around Johannesburg, Zuma sparked anger by appearing to suggest roads in Malawi were inferior.

“We can’t think like Africans, in Africa, generally,” he said.

“We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It’s not some national road in Malawi.”

Pretoria had said the remarks “are not a true reflection of the people of South Africa’s perception of the African continent and its people. President Zuma holds the people of Malawi in high regard,” said Kalichero.

South Africa dispatched its deputy foreign minister Fransman, who made a “courtesy call” to Malawian President Joyce Banda yesterday, according to an embassy official.

Zuma’s spokesperson later retracted the statement and said he had been quoted out of context.

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