President Donald Trump under attack for referring to Africans and Haitians coming from 'sh*thole countries' and the AU has demanded a retraction and apology. The SA government has made no statement as yet. File picture: Alex Brandon/AP
US President Donald Trump’s remark on Thursday referring to Africans and Haitians as coming from “sh*thole countries” has sparked a wave of controversy and condemnation worldwide.

It has brought perceptions of Trump’s ignorance about Africa and the world to a new low and will likely affect relations with the African continent in the future.

Trump’s remarks were made during a bipartisan meeting with congressional lawmakers at the White House.

His comments were leaked by both Democrats and Republicans present in the meeting.

The African Union issued a statement on Friday demanding both a retraction and an apology.

The continental body expressed its fury, disappointment and outrage at Trump’s remarks.

“The AU strongly believes there is a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its peoples by the US Administration,” the AU statement read.

“This relationship should be from the point of equality and mutual respect.”

Botswana, a traditional African ally of the US, has come out most vocally in condemning Trump’s comments.

It summoned the US Ambassador to clarify whether Botswana is among those considered “sh*thole countries".

Botswana wants to know why Trump would use such a derogatory word when the two countries have had cordial and mutually beneficial relations for many years, and Botswana is to host a US congressional delegation later this month.

Botswana also stood up to the US in December following the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s threat that the US would take action against countries that voted against the US in the UN General Assembly vote on the status of Jerusalem.

Botswana responded, “We will not be intimidated and will exercise our sovereign right and vote.”

Botswana has called on the SADC, the AU and all progressive nations to condemn Trump’s latest remark.

The former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, who stepped down last year, has also called on African presidents to condemn Trump’s utterances.

“Isn’t Trump demonstrating that he is nothing but a racist and pursuing a policy of Make America White Again?” Mahama tweeted.

The South African government has not as yet heeded the call, remaining mum on the matter, although the ANC and the DA have denounced the comment.

“It is extremely offensive to call any developing country a shithole,” responded ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte.

“We would not deign to make comments as derogatory about any country facing difficulties.”

DA leader Musi Maimane described the comments as “abhorrent” tweeting: “He [Trump] confirms a patronising view of Africa and promotes a racist agenda.

"Africa/US relations will take strain from this, with a leader who has failed to reconcile humanity.

"The hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent.”

Foreign Bureau

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