A diplomatic stand-off between Jamaica and Zimbabwe seems to be bubbling following recent comments attributed to the president of the African country, Robert Mugabe, who has been quoted as labelling Jamaican men “drunkards and perennially hooked on marijuana”.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade A.J. Nicholson said yesterday his office would be seeking to verify the statements, after which Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller would respond.
But going one step further, Opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Dr Christopher Tufton described the statement as unfortunate and said if it were found to have been made by Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president would have a responsibility to shed light on his comments, as well as provide an apology.
“I think that he should be called on to provide an explanation as to what he meant. It’s inappropriate and, frankly speaking, rude. He should apologise to the Jamaican people,” Tufton declared.
Tufton went added that the comments generate questions as to whether Mugabe should retain membership in the Order of Jamaica, which was conferred on him during a state visit to the island back in 1996.
Yesterday, Nicholson told The Gleaner that the Government “strongly rejects the suggestions contained in the news item”, while adding that Jamaica is a nation characterised by adherence to democratic principles and the rule of law.
In the online article posted on Friday by a Zimbabwean radio station, Mugabe, who was speaking during a lecture at a university function, reportedly urged Zimbabweans never to follow in the footsteps of Jamaicans whose influence on the country is all too pervasive.
“In Jamaica, they have freedom to smoke (men are always drunk) and universities are full of women.
“The men want to sing and do not go to colleges (some are dreadlocked). Let us not go there,” the African president was quoted as saying.