Democratic Alliance (Cape Town)

30 April 2014

South Africa: Mbalula Should Retract Irresponsible Kenya Comments

press release

Photo: Government of South Africa
South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula (file photo).

The comments made yesterday by the Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, about Kenyan athletes constitutes nothing less than a diplomatic blunder. He should immediately retract and apologise for these irresponsible remarks.

During a breakfast meeting between editors of the various media houses and the ANC leadership, Minister Mbalula said "South Africa wouldn't be like Kenya and send athletes to the Olympics to drown in the pool."

These comments are unacceptable and deeply offensive to the people of Kenya, and should be retracted without further delay. Xenophobic utterances of this nature not only compromise our diplomatic relations with other African countries; but also are highly embarrassing for South Africans, especially coming from a cabinet Minister.

It is for this reason that I will submit parliamentary questions at the earliest sitting of the fifth Parliament to satisfy that Minister Mablula has formally apologised in writing to the Kenyan High Commissioner for his reckless and unfounded comments.

Minister Mbalula would do well to tread lightly when making any public statements. South Africa is still reeling from his last attack on the national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, when he called them a "bunch of losers". Yet he continues unabated and without any consequences from Jacob Zuma's ANC, leading us right into the middle of this highly embarrassing diplomatic incident.

However, this is hardly surprising considering that President Jacob Zuma, himself, is no stranger to spewing reckless rhetoric. Not so long ago, the South African ambassador to Malawi was summoned to explain President Zuma's own diplomatic faux pas which he refused to apologise for.

The DA will not sit back and allow President Zuma's ANC to erode the country's diplomatic relations on the African continent.

The damage that this ANC government continues to cause can only be mitigated by a vote for the DA on May 7.

Winston Rabotapi, Shadow Minister of Sport and Recreation

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InFocus

Outcry Over SA Minister's Kenya Comment

South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula (file photo).

South African Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has sparked controversy over comments made about Kenyan athletes. Read more »