15 January 2018

Namibia: African Condemnation Follows Trump's 'Shithole' Comments

Photo: African Union Mission to the USA
African Union Mission to the USA reacts to President Trump's 'shithole countries' remarks.

VARIOUS African governments, including Namibia, and continental organisations have criticised US president Donald Trump for referring to African states as "shithole countries" in a meeting with US lawmakers at the White House last Thursday.

Trump drew sharp international criticism, including from the United Nations, when he apparently said that African and other countries were "shithole countries" in a bipartisan discussion of US immigration regulations.

International relations permanent secretary, Selma Ashipala-Musavyi said Friday that Namibia did not appreciate the disparaging remarks of US president Donald Trump in which he is reported to have referred to African states as "shithole countries". Ashipala-Musavyi told The Namibian that she only found out about the remarks through the media. She said she has contacted the Namibian embassy in Washington to find out in what context Trump made the remarks, adding that she was still awaiting a response from them.

"We do not know in what context the remarks were made, but we do not agree with them. This is not a comment we appreciate from one state to another," she said.

Ashipala-Musavyi also said in the statement that the language Trump used had no place in diplomatic discourse and was contrary to the norms of civility.

"Furthermore, it does not contribute to international cooperation," she said.

She commended Americans who have distanced themselves from Trump's derogatory remarks.

"The Africa we know and love is is one that is recovering economically and rising," she said.

She, however, said the US president's comments would not affect Namibia's bilateral relations with that country.

President Hage Geingob has not pronounced himself on the issue and State House press secretary Albertus Aochamub did not respond to questions seeking comment.

Local legal expert Nico Horn yesterday said Trump's comments were "extremely racist and ridiculous for a leader to say".

He added that the comments reflected Trump's "stupidity as a person", adding that the US president "is a disgrace for America and the free world. He has become a joke of the world".

Meanwhile, the African Union Representational Mission to the US also condemned Trump's comments, saying he did not respect the celebrated American "creed and the respect for diversity and human dignity".

In a statement released on Friday, the African Union mission also demanded retraction of the comments, as well as an apology "to not only the Africans, but to all people of African descent around the globe".

"There is a serious need for dialogue between the US administration and the African countries," the statement reads.

The African group of ambassadors to the United Nations also condemned Trump's comments, saying they were "outrageous, racist and xenophobic".

The group also demanded an apology and retraction of the comment.

On Friday, the government of Botswana also reacted to the comments by summoning the US ambassador in that country to express its displeasure over what it termed "derogatory" and "racial" remarks by the US leader.

In a statement issued on Friday the Botswana government called Trump's comments highly irresponsible, considering that the US and Botswana enjoyed cordial and mutually beneficial relations, and called on SADC and the African Union and other nations to strongly condemn Trump's remarks.

The neighbouring country also demanded that Trump clarify whether Botswana was also a "shithole" country.

Since Trump uttered the comments last week, the global reaction has been wholly disparaging and mocking, especially on social media platforms.

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