South Africa has apologised over remarks its President Jacob Zuma made on Malawi at the Gauteng African National Congress (ANC) Manifesto Forum in Johannesburg on Monday night.
In a clip on the EyeWitness News website, Zuma is quoted as having said: “We can’t think like Africans, in Africa, generally. We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It’s not some national road in Malawi.”
Zuma was apparently trying to convince motorists to accept South Africa’s plan to charge toll fees on highways around Johannesburg.
His remarks prompted Lilongwe to summon South Africa’s High Commissioner Cassandra Makone on Wednesday to clarify the statement.
Yesterday, Zuma sent his Deputy Diplomatic Relations Minister Marius Fransman to Malawi who met President Joyce Banda at the Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Brown Mpinganjira confirmed the meeting.
Said Mpinganjira: “We note the president [Zuma] has apologised. We are quite satisfied and we will continue to enjoy relations with South Africa.”
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation principal secretary George Mkondiwa also confirmed the Wednesday meeting with Makone, saying “she was apologetic”.
The Sowetan newspaper of South Africa has quoted Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj as having said that Zuma was reported out of context.
The paper quoted Maharaj: “I have received numerous calls from Malawians being angry and after long discussions, they come around and say, yes, let’s not make a mountain of a molehill. Let me apologise for that and withdraw it.”