Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa has reassured the government in Pretoria that diplomatic relations between the two nations will remain strong, according to Clayson Monyela, South African Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman.
“South Africa noted with regret this negative comment about South Africa attributed to the vice president of Zambia,” said Monyela, referring to a report in the Guardian newspaper.
“What we have received from the Zambia High Commissioner,” continued Monyela, “is that relationship between Zambia and South Africa remains strong, solid, friendly and fraternal and historical. We will seek an explanation from him in terms of what do these remarks mean in the context of our bilateral relations.”
Last week, South Africa summoned Zambia’s ambassador Muyeba Chikonde to explain what were seen as insulting and anti-South African statements attributed to Vice President Guy Scott.
“What we then did was to summoned the High Commissioner of Zambia to come and explain to us what informed these remarks and whether they are true and if they are true what do they mean in the context of our bilateral relations,” said Monyela.
Scott was quoted by the Guardian as saying: “South Africans are very backward in terms of historical development…I hate South Africans; they really think they're the bees' knees and actually they've been the cause of so much trouble in this part of the world... “
Monyela said Zambia officials answered that Scott’s remarks do not reflect the views of the government in Lusaka and its people.
“They’ve not been able to speak to the vice president to ascertain whether in fact it’s true that he said the things that he is alleged to have said,” said Monyela. “But we have been given assurance that those views, even if they were said, do not represent the views of the government of Zambia.”
Zambia opposition parties sharply criticized Scott’s alleged remarks after expressing concern that they would create deep diplomatic rifts between Lusaka and Pretoria. But, Monyela says relations between the two nations will remain cordial in spite of the reported comments.
“We can assure the people of Zambia that irrespective of the explanation that we will finally get from the vice president when he comes back from his leave, in fact if he said what he is alleged to have said, we will deal with them at the level of the president and the vice president,” continued Monyela, “but it will not affect people-to-people relations.”
Monyela predicts diplomatic relations between the two countries will remain strong in the future.
“We don’t think it’s a matter that will compromise our strong bond and relations,” said Monyela.