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Johannesburg - South Africa would never look down on Malawi or any African country, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Wednesday.
She was reacting to the row that President Jacob Zuma caused on Tuesday with disparaging remarks about Malawi and Africa generally.
Defending the toll roads around Joburg, Zuma said: “We can’t think like Africans in Africa generally. We’re in Johannesburg. This is Johannesburg. This is not some national road in Malawi.”
Malawians were insulted by Zuma’s remark, the spokeswoman for the Malawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Quent Kalichero, said on Wednesday.
“Off the cuff, it was not a diplomatic thing to say,” she added.
“A lot of Malawians have been tweeting about it and otherwise commenting on social media. The majority are insulted and they think it’s not a good thing for a president to say.”
Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa was “closely linked to Malawi. We will never look down on any African country”.
South Africa was giving financial assistance to Malawi of $35 million (R342.6m), she noted.
She said Zuma’s actions spoke louder than his words, and that was what should be the focus.
The minister also expressed concern about the recent resumption of warfare between Mozambique’s Frelimo government and its old civil war foe Renamo.
This week, Mozambican government troops captured Renamo’s bush camp in Gorongosa province.
“There have been 21 years of peace in Mozambique and we want to see them continue on that line.”