By Staff Reporter
The Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs A.J. Nicholson says his office will be seeking clarification from the Government of Zimbabwe over ‘rude’ comments made by President Robert Mugabe attacking Jamaican men as “drunkards and perennially hooked on marijuana”.
While giving a “distinguished lecture” at the Research and Intellectual Expo 2012, Mugabe who neither smokes nor drinks alcohol, stoked a diplomatic tiff with the Jamaicans when he described the island as a country of marijuana smokers, where women are now taking charge since men are always sloshed.
“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.
Nicholson said they would be seeking to verify the statements, after which Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will respond. Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Dr Christopher Tufton described the statement as “inappropriate and, frankly speaking, rude.”
“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 went a step further demanding that Mugabe should apologise to the Jamaican people. Tufton said 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.
“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.
“Clearly, he does not place much value on the relationship that we have,” Tufton said, while adding that the diplomatic channels must be utilised to call for the Zimbabwean president to clarify his statement.
Meanwhile 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.
“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.
“We take immense pride in the acknowledged contribution that Jamaica has made to the liberation of southern Africa and are gratified that nations such as South Africa and Zimbabwe enjoy the right to choose their own destiny,” Nicholson said.
Reggae singer Tony Rebel said: “President Mugabe is a man who I have revolutionary respect for but I say ‘you are wrong Mr. President’ because I am a Jamaican, and I don’t smoke and drink for years and I know of many other Jamaicans who don’t smoke.
“That statement is not a true reflection of us as a people because not everybody wants to sing and a lot of our sons are in colleges and the president needs to do his research.”
Another singer Cocoa Tea added: “That statement is not a true reflection of us as people. Jamaicans are way better than that and we are leaders but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. “Sizzla is an educated artiste who has his degree for example. I don’t really know how he came up with that conclusion.