'Mugabe's comments disrespectful, misguided'

KINGSTONE - Jamaican Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has dismissed as “disrespectful and misguided” controversial comments made by President Robert Mugabe about Jamaican men while the country’s opposition is demanding a full apology from the Zimbabwean leader.

A week after Mugabe’s comments triggered intense public debate, Simpson Miller hit back saying the Zimbabwean leader’s remarks were untrue.

Mugabe had last week Wednesday labelled Jamaican men as underachievers who get high on ganja, drunk on alcohol, refuse to go to college and spend time twisting their hair.

Simpson Miller said on Thursday Mugabe’s statement was disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of Jamaican men who are excellent fathers, professionals and outstanding citizens.

In a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, Simpson Miller said Mugabe’s remarks, “regardless of whether they were spoken ‘in jest’ as was stated” by independent Zimbabwe daily newspaper Daily News, “were grossly unfortunate, misguided and untrue”.

It took eight days, since the president’s controversial remarks, for Jamaica House to confirm through “exhaustive checks” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade that Mugabe made the uncomplimentary comments about Jamaican men at the launch of a 2012 Research and Intellectual Institute Expo in, Harare.

Simpson Miller said: “We are confident that the remarks of President Mugabe do not represent the sentiments of the people of Zimbabwe, other African countries and the rest of the world.”

She added: “Our confidence is predicated on the fact that there are many outstanding and globally accepted examples of the character and contribution of Jamaican men who have set the benchmark as exceptional achievers.”

However, opposition leader Andrew Holness suggested that the prime minister’s statement was inadequate.
“We should send an official letter of protest and ask for an apology in expressing our disgust and dissatisfaction at the statement,” the opposition leader insisted.

He argued that Mugabe’s utterances could have international implications, noting that people who read his comments in the Zimbabwean press could form a particular view about Jamaicans.

“We have Brand Jamaica to protect and that statement is certainly not helping Brand Jamaica,” Holness stressed. — Jamaican Gleaner

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