Malawi: Zuma remarks won’t hurt relations

2013-10-25 12:00
President Jacob Zuma (GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma (GCIS)

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Damage control after Zuma's statement

2013-10-24 08:28

The presidency has apologised to anyone 'who still feels offended' by comments made President Jacob Zuma on e-tolls.WATCH

Johannesburg - Malawi said on Friday 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 deputy international relations minister 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," Kalichero said.

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

Zuma's spokesperson later retracted the statement and said he had been quoted out of context.
Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  marius fransman  |  malawi  |  southern africa  |  transport  |  tolls

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