Don't take comments seriously - Ebrahim

2010-12-01 22:33

Pretoria - The alleged "side comments" made by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane about Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe being a "crazy old man" should not be taken seriously, said her deputy Ebrahim Ebrahim on Wednesday.

"A lot of people say things about leaders all the time; some are maybe said seriously and some are said light heatedly. This is not something to worry about, there are more fundamental issues to worry about," Ebrahim told journalists in Pretoria after bilateral talks with British Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham.

"Mandela even once said he doesn't think George Bush (former US president) can think properly. I'm sure you know people had terrible things to say about Margaret Thatcher (former UK prime minister...I think we should take it in that spirit, I don't think it's a serious matter whether he says it's a 'crazy old man' or a 'wise old man'."

Ebrahim further said the comments contained in documents leaked to whistleblower website WikiLeaks would not affect the good relations that South Africa and Zimbabwe share and that it would not affect mediation talks.

Ebrahim, who flew in from the UK on Wednesday afternoon, has not yet discussed the matter with Nkoane-Mashabane.

WikiLeaks has leaked the first batch of 250 000 US diplomatic cables it has been given access to.

The cables which include unflattering remarks about many world leaders also including embarrassing revelations of how South Africa and the US view Zimbabwe's leaders.

Credible elections

During their meeting Ebrahim and Bellingham also touched on Zimbabwe, following President Jacob Zuma's visit to Zimbabwe last Friday.

Bellingham said Britain was keen to see a credible election, one that was recognised by the international community.

"We are delighted that President Zuma went to Zimbabwe on Friday and met all three party leaders. Britain will listen to our key friends in South Africa about views on way the forward for Zimbabwe," he said.

"We want to see credible elections and we will support those people working in that directions."

Asked about what he thought of Mugabe wanting Bush and former UK President Tony Blair to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes instead of prosecuting Sudan's leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Bellingham replied: "He does come up with comments from time to time doesn't he and one has to probably take them with a bit of interest... What Robert Mugabe said are his own views, I don't think I agree with them."

Mugabe, speaking at a joint summit of the European Union and African states on Wednesday, reportedly said the ICC was applying a double standard by indicting al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and genocide.

"Why does this court not do the same with Tony Blair and George W Bush, both of whom occupied Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people?" Mugabe said in a speech to the summit in Libya's capital, Tripoli.

Sudan's government said it was boycotting the EU-Africa summit in protest at EU pressure for Bashir to stay away.

Significant progress

Meanwhile, Bellingham said there was "significant progress" in Sudan which had been marred by decades of north-south civil war - thanks to former South African President Thabo Mbeki, whom he referred to as "a pillar of strength".

He commended the Summit in pushing for the Sudanese independence referendum vote taking place in January next year.

This referendum, part of the 2005 deal that also created a power-sharing government with south Sudan leader Salva Kiir as vice president to al-Bashir, may lead to the partition of the country. It is viewed as a gateway to freedom in the south.

"In the past it would been quite sceptical to discuss the possibility of a referendum ever taking place or the outcome. There is a great deal of determination, even within the international community, to have a free and fair referendum."

Ebrahim said both leaders were committed to recognising the results, whatever they may be.

"They are committed to free, fair and transparent elections. Whatever the results, they are not going back to war and violence," he said. He indicated that even neighbouring countries fully supported the referendum as Sudan tended to destabilise the whole region when at war.

"Sudan's future must be decided by its people."

  • ArtGee - 2010-12-01 22:52

    Anything the GOVT says should not be taken seriously... if they DENY it, then it is TRUE!

  • Francois - 2010-12-01 23:08

    Why are you denying it? Everybody thinks Mugabe is a crazy old man, except those who get money from his or sexual favours. And where did I hear this thing about a country that must decide for themselves - ah ja - Racist Mbeki, the pillar of strength in the Sudan! That he said after everyone in the world knew that Mugabe stole the 2002 election and that Mugabe used his army to crush opposition! I think it is a humble idea from Racist Mbeki and it even may work in the Sudan, because there are not whites and no crazy old man that can hand out favours - be they sexual or not! I think Nkoane - Mashabane must say that for every Matebele woman that is rapes for political reasons in the next elections - she will send one of her sisters or nieces to the Sudan as peace keepers for the coming elections - how about that - Nkoane Mashabane? I think it is a fair deal - what about you - you pillar of people rights along with Racist Mbeki in Southern Africa?

  • Iron John - 2010-12-02 00:02

    Actually, saying Mugabe is a crazy old man is, I think, perfectly diplomatic. No problem, no worries.

      lean - 2010-12-02 09:03

      I can also say Mugabe is a MORON - it is a perfectly medical term for someone classified as "crazy" or the clinical term "psychotic".

  • Macho Mike - 2010-12-02 00:03

    At least Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane speaks the truth. Can the same be said about your comment afterwards,Mr Ebrahim? In other words we do not take your comments about Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane being serious, as being serious. In other words, your excuse should not be taken seriously, ne? Truth is i take very little the ANC says seriously.

  • miholer - 2010-12-02 00:42

    Mugabe is a crazy old man, although I'd add the word "evil" in that description.

  • Kevin Rack - 2010-12-02 04:45

    Bull. You said it! Typical politicians lying about everything. He is crazy and should be in a home. Look what he has done to a once prosperous country.

  • grant9 - 2010-12-02 05:14

    Mugabe has become senile. I for one don't believe he is still in charge in Zimbabwe. I think the ZANU-PF politburo is in control and Mugabe is just the figurehead.

      AnneB - 2010-12-02 18:09

      The politburo and the military generals. Rumour has it the crazy old man wanted to retire a few years ago and the generals talked him out of it.

  • Allin - 2010-12-02 06:45

    So, the one time a South African government minister says something factually correct he shouldn't be believed???

  • Ixian - 2010-12-02 07:24

    "Crazy old man." I think that was a very diplomatic statement.

  • FatMole - 2010-12-02 07:41

    How stupid of me! And there I was taking politicians seriously. So that whole Osama Bin Laden/Sept. 11 thing was just a bit of fun. Oh, and the whole middle east issue is just Israel and Palastine having a bit of a giggle. Now that you mention it, why didn't I see the humour in the war in Iraq? WWII...? Just having a laugh! And that whole struggle against apartheid thing? Just kidding, we didn't really mean it. Mr Ebrahim, you are a giant, Steers-suace-basted, left-on-the-braai-to-long CHOP!

  • Zion - 2010-12-02 07:41

    Of course we take it seriously because Bob-next-door is a crazy old man. Though, if I was doing the saying I would delete "crazy" and insert "demented"

  • skywalker - 2010-12-02 07:45

    Siphulus makes one crazy.

      DeonL - 2010-12-02 16:09

      I think so too, it is called Neurosyphillis, it was very common before penicilline, also if don't get treatment.

  • Boerseun - 2010-12-02 07:49

    Sudan's future should be decided by the people and more so the future of the Christian south, should be determinded by the Chrsitians from the south. The same goes for RSA, where every nation or grouping should decide what they want and no-one else.

  • brigs - 2010-12-02 07:58

    If anything in government should be taken seriously. This is it. He is a crazy old man.

  • Barry - 2010-12-02 08:02

    The other leaders mentioned did not destroy their country or commit genocide. They should have shot 'CRAZY BOB' years ago.

  • exrhodesian - 2010-12-02 08:02

    He is not only crazy but like a mad dog with rabies who should be treated with a dose of SSG.

  • Chibuli - 2010-12-02 08:22

    He's a kleptocratic autocrat with no morals and ethics. He's an incompetent racist dog. He's a thief and a murderer - no better than any other common criminal. He's a disgrace and an embarrassment to the African people and needs to be replaced urgently. He is seriously sick in the head! Viva regime change, viva!

      BT - 2010-12-02 09:13

      That pretty much sums it up. Well said. Of course we need to take the "comments seriously". In fact the comments were probably way too "soft". Mugabe is a complete madman, and should wallow in a prison cell for the rest of life, although thankfully, this may not be too many years!

  • PB - 2010-12-02 08:33

    Minister Nkoane-Mashabane - you were still being diplomatic. There are a hell of a lot of other things that could be said about Prime Evil (a.k.a. Mad Bob) - he is a bloody fool,murderous, power-hungry, money-grabbing, farm-grabbing, nuts old delusional twat. Oh sorry, Deputy Ebrahim, I guess I am just kidding - same as what your parents did when they stuttered giving you your name...

  • Pothole - 2010-12-02 08:56

    So why don't the minister speaks for herself. Maybe she was serious.

  • Pothole - 2010-12-02 08:57

    So why don't the minister for herself. Maybe she was serious.

  • Spydr - 2010-12-02 08:58

    ... But if anyone says something about dear Juju, it is taken very seriously!

  • Shistirrer - 2010-12-02 09:34

    I have no problem with what the minister said, that was spot on, maybe even a bit diplomatic and flattering for Mad Bob. I do have a problem when the ministers deputy tries to cover it up as not being serious. Cables between governments not serious? You can't be serious! Serious?

  • idgara - 2010-12-02 09:39

    For once, one of ministers tells the truth!!!

  • randrdunbar - 2010-12-02 10:31

    Mr.Mugabe should be summons to the International Court for his sanctioned crimes in Zimbabwe committed against innocent people.When the first Democratic elections took place in S.A. the UN monitors were visible.My question is will the UN monitors be visible when Zimbabwe holds their elections?I guess that could depend who the international community leaders will prefer to run the country,perhaps.I guess I may have answered my own question.

  • ir8m8 - 2010-12-02 10:31

    so when we whitess refers to "these people" or "them" its considered racist with harmful intent, when a minister with high profile says things like this against a state leader (albeit that he is an idiot / Dictator etc etc) its ok. does it ever seem to cross the minds of the people that make policy, that you yourselves are the problem...

  • randrdunbar - 2010-12-02 11:22

    Double standards is the name of the game.The voters power starts and ends at the ballot box.This is democracy in action.Seriously,we need a greater voter turnout,neverthless.The less votes cast the more inflated the results become.ir8m8,you may be disillusioned and agitated & rightly so.

  • Joy - 2010-12-02 14:06

    Why deny it -- Mugabe is a crazy old man !

  • Mundu - 2010-12-02 17:55

    I take it seriously. I think he was too kind in his description. Trying to be diplomatic. Mugabe is a nut job. His elevator doesn't go up to the top floor, he is a few sandwiches short of a full picnic. Lights on but no-one home.

  • di - 2010-12-02 23:21

    Why should we not take this comment seriously. It's the only intelligent thing they've said in years!

  • ChinaWolf - 2010-12-03 02:43

    Why punish and discredit some body who speaks the truth about America???Transperency is the key to world peace and fairness for all. Don't think so small minded ... or do you also have some thing to hide????New Age thinker

  • ChinaWolf - 2010-12-03 02:45

    Why discredit some body who has the "gut" to make the US schemes and others visible??? Transparency is the key to world peace and human rights ... wake up out there or, do you also have some thing to hide for your own benefit ....

  • ChinaWolf - 2010-12-03 02:53

    Refer to "Conversations with God" Book 2 - by Naele Donal Walsh - this will help you to open your eyes - Go WIKI GO ... be Ignorant or read this Book - or simply be quiet

  • AJ - 2010-12-03 07:13

    Interesting how the public are being asked to 'not take comments seriously'. Considering how the wikileaks website has been attacked and withdrawn from US Servers, and politicians calling for everything from Assange's imprisonment to his assasination, perhaps you should take some of your own advice? Hyprocritical much?

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