Mugabe mbanje storm escalates

HARARE - Jamaicans have demanded that President Robert Mugabe apologise for labelling their men lazy drug addicts.

The Jamaican government has also waded in, with the Caribbean country’s foreign minister defending his citizens in the aftermath of Mugabe’s attack.

An opposition leader has been harsher though, calling on the 88-year-old to apologise.

According to The Gleaner, a top Jamaican independent newspaper, foreign minister Arnold Nicholson is seeking verification from Mugabe, after which Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller would respond.

Nicholson said the Jamaican government “strongly rejects the suggestions contained in the news item”, adding that Jamaica is a nation characterised by adherence to democratic principles and the rule of law.

“Jamaican men and women from all walks of life have made valuable contributions to national development and have made their mark on the world stage, be it in the field of politics, diplomacy, medicine, science and technology, or sports and culture, among many others,” he said.

Christopher Tufton, the opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade went further to demand that Mugabe returns an award he received from Jamaica nearly 20 years ago.

“I think he should be called on to provide an explanation as to what he meant. It is inappropriate and, frankly speaking, rude. He should apologise to the Jamaican people.

“It certainly is in poor taste and does not generate confidence in the relationship. It is inappropriate and it threatens to undermine the relationship that Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe have had with Jamaica and the people of Jamaica over many years,” Tufton told The Gleaner.

Tufton questioned why Mugabe should retain membership in the Order of Jamaica, which was conferred on him during a state visit to the island back in 1996.

“If he thinks that way about Jamaica, then what I would certainly say is, why did he accept that award that was offered to him?

“Now that he has that impression of Jamaica, then perhaps he should consider returning the award and I have no difficulty with that. He has insulted the Jamaican people,” Tafton is quoted as having said."

The standoff was triggered following comments by Mugabe and reported in the Daily News suggesting that Jamaican men were always high on weed and were reluctant to work.

Delivering a “distinguished lecture” last week, Mugabe said: “In Jamaica they have freedom to smoke mbanje. Varume vanogara vakadhakwa (Men are always drunk) and universities are full of women. The men want to sing and do not go to colleges vamwe vanobva vamonwa musoro (some are dreadlocked)."

“Let us not go there,” said Mugabe.

Zimbabwe enjoys cordial relations with the island nation although there are no diplomats stationed in either country.

Several Jamaican musicians, including the legendary Bob Marley have visited Zimbabwe which they describe as a second home.

Jamaican artistes who have visited the country recently have been outdoing each other to sing Mugabe praises.

But the 88-year-old seems unwilling to return the favour.

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