NEWS
15/01/2018 06:21 SAST | Updated 15/01/2018 06:21 SAST

South Africa To Meet US Embassy Over Trump "Sh*thole" Comments

South Africa wants the US to explain the White House's position on African nations.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks upon arrival for dinner at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., January 14, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The South African government plans to meet with the acting ambassador to South Africa, Jessye Lapenn on Monday, to discuss US President Donald Trump's "sh*thole" comments, Daily Maverick reported.

Trump reportedly told a meeting at the Oval Office last week that the United States did not need immigrants from "sh*thole" countries like African countries and Haiti. He reportedly said the country needed more immigrants from places like Norway.

Trump reportedly denied the statement initially, telling reporters he was the "least racist person you will ever meet". But the exchange was reportedly confirmed by Senator Dick Durban, according to the BBC.

South Africa reportedly joins the African Union, the UN, Botswana and Ghana in condemning Trump's comments.

Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela reportedly said the department wanted to give the US an opportunity to explain the Trump's statement. While the department noted Trump's denial of some of his statement, Trump did not deny what he said about African countries, Monyela said.

"The Department has noted President Trump's tweet on Friday, 12 January 2018, in which he denies making the crude and offensive statement. The Department has noted further that President Trump's denial was not categorical, referring only to Haiti and not addressing the entirety of the statement attributed to him.

"South Africa aligns itself with the statements issued by the African Union and the Africa group of Ambassadors to the United Nations in New York. Africa is united in its affirmation of the dignity of the people of Africa and the African diaspora.

"Relations between South Africa and the United States, and between the rest of Africa and the United States, must be based on mutual respect and understanding," Monyela said.

Lapenn is reportedly an acting ambassador to South Africa after the departure of Patrick Gaspard, who was the ambassador under President Barack Obama. Gaspard distanced himself from Trump's remarks on Saturday.

Experts say Trump's comments could seriously undermine relations between the US and African countries. Director of African Studies at John Hopkins University's School of Advanced African Studies, Peter Lewis told CNN that the row would not just "blow over". He reportedly said that Trump had undermined 25 years of African goodwill towards the US.

"I think it fundamentally poisons the relationship with numerous countries."

And apart from the impact on trade and other agreements, the US also has about 6000 armed forces in Africa.

"To squander that goodwill certainly means many difficulties in terms of pursuing trade, in terms of doing business comfortably, in terms of counter terrorism, security cooperation," Lewis said.

The US Embassy confirmed the meeting on Sunday, Daily Maverick reported.