President Jacob Zuma's recent controversial remarks about Malawi will not affect relations between the two nations, according to the country,
Malawi said on Friday President Jacob Zuma's recent controversial remarks which implied it was backward would not damage relations between the two nations.
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Zuma was left red-faced after making disparaging comments on Monday about roads in the fellow southern African country, where South Africa's top diplomat was summoned to explain his remarks.
However meetings with high commissioner Cassandra Makone and Deputy International Relations and Co-operation Minister Marius Fransman, who flew to Lilongwe to make amends, appeared to have soothed tensions.
Zuma's remarks "will definitely not have a negative impact on Malawi-South Africa's bilateral relations", Malawi foreign affairs spokesperson Quent Kalichero said.
In a bid to convince South African motorists to accept a highly controversial plan to toll highways around Johannesburg, Zuma sparked anger by appearing to suggest roads in Malawi were inferior.
'We can't think like Africans'
"We can't think like Africans, in Africa, generally," he said.
"We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It's not some national road in Malawi."
Pretoria had said the remarks "are not a true reflection of the people of South Africa's perception of the African continent and its people. President Zuma holds the people of Malawi in high regard," Kalichero said.
South Africa dispatched its deputy foreign minister Fransman, who made a "courtesy call" to Malawi's President Joyce Banda on Thursday, according to an embassy official.
Zuma's spokesperson later retracted the statement and said he had been quoted out of context.
"The presidency has noted reports in certain media suggesting that President Jacob Zuma insinuated that Africans were backward and that they should stop thinking like 'Africans in Africa and accept that Gauteng roads were not like some national road in Malawi or Pietermaritzburg or Rustenburg'," said presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj on Tuesday.
"The words have regrettably been taken out of context and blown completely out of proportion."
He said Zuma used an example by saying it was not fair to compare Gauteng roads to roads in other towns such as "Pietermaritzburg, Rustenburg, Polokwane or any other town or national road in Malawi as this was Gauteng, the heartbeat of South Africa's economy and an international city of commerce and business".
"The remarks were made in the broader context of South Africa achieving more in the past 19 years of freedom and democracy," Maharaj said. – AFP