KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sept 10, CMC – The Jamaica government says it is seeking clarification over a statement reportedly made by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe about the country before it makes a full response.
But in the interim, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister AJ Nicholson has brushed aside reported remarks that Mugabe described Jamaica, which observed its 50th anniversary of political independence from Britain last month, as “a country of marijuana smokers where women are now taking charge since men are always sloshed”.
The Zimbabwean president was quoted further as saying that while marijuana is illegal in Jamaica, citizens are free to smoke and that men are always drunk, while universities were full of women.
Nicholas said that Kingston is seeking to verify the statement before Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller responds fully, but in the meantime he would remind Mugabe that Jamaica is a nation characterized 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.
"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,” Nicholas said in a statement.
He said that Jamaicans have played their roles in the development Africa and the African Diaspora adding “we need not remind that Jamaicans such as Marcus Garvey, Michael Manley, Bob Marley and Dudley Thompson have advocated for and inspired generations of our brothers and sisters both in Africa and in the African Diaspora.
“We believe that our contribution to the promotion of peace and social justice is recognized and appreciated by all well thinking people across the globe."
Prominent educator, Professor John Rapley, a former research associate at the International Growth Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, said the comments made by Mugabe about Jamaicans should not come as a shock.
Rapley said that this is not the first time Mugabe has made unflattering comments about Jamaicans and Rastafarians, in particular.
Zimbabwe has enjoyed diplomatic support from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations in the past. Mugabe has also visited the Rastafarian community here and was conferred with Jamaica’s fourth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica, in 1996 for his fight against apartheid.
But Mugabe’s relations with the Caribbean have waned over the years.
Following the 2008 election, which was fraught with allegations of corruption, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries declared the ballot as "totally devoid of legitimacy" and called for Mugabe to work with the African Union and his South African neighbours for a negotiated outcome to the flawed process.