HARARE – The US envoy in Harare yesterday came close to apologising for scurrilous remarks made by President Donald Trump that immigrants from Africa and Haiti come from “s***hole countries.”
Trump reportedly made the remarks at a private meeting with lawmakers on immigration last Thursday.
A US senator who attended the gathering said the president used “vile, vulgar” language, including repeatedly using the word “s***hole” when speaking about African countries.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister Sibusiso Moyo told State radio that the remarks “shocked and dismayed us.”
“The USA is a prominent country of which the world expects the best example in its projection of democratic values, commitment to the fight against bigotry, upholding the civil rights of all of its people and generosity towards the less fortunate countries in the world,” Moyo said.
“We join fellow African countries and others in rejecting this unfortunate characterisation of our peoples and countries.
“We all desire the amplification of positive relations with the USA, and would hope that care will be taken going forward to avoid jeopardising prospects for those relations through such hurtful and prejudicial language from any official quarter in the USA.”
Speaking at the hand over of a $502 million grant by the Global Fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria yesterday, US envoy Harry Thomas Jnr said: “I would like to say on behalf of the embassy, of my government, the American people that we have tremendous respect for Zimbabwe, the African continent, its people, its culture, its traditions, the immigrants in America, chiefly from Zimbabwe, are the highest achieving people. I just want to say from the bottom of our hearts we are part of you,” he said to applause, adding that Zimbabweans were still welcome to the US.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said: “I would like to thank the ambassador for the reassurance he has given us.”
The US president made a volte face on Friday amid international condemnation, denying using such derogatory language.
But he has been widely condemned in many African countries and by international rights organisations. African Union countries demanded an apology.