Mugabe riles 'pot-smoking idlers'
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has sparked an angry reaction in Jamaica for reportedly saying that the island's men were interested only in smoking dope and singing all day.
Mugabe, 88, is said to have made the undiplomatic comments in an unscripted aside during a three-hour speech at a research exposition in Harare.
"In Jamaica, they have freedom to smoke cannabis, the men are always high and universities are full of women," he is reported by the Zimbabwean Daily News to have said.
"The men want to sing and do not go to colleges; some of them twist their hair. Let us not go there."
The comments provoked fierce debate in Jamaican newspapers and on radio chat shows, and brought criticism from the country's foreign minister, who insisted that his countrymen were "law abiding".
"Jamaican men and women from all walks of life have made valuable contributions to our development and have made their mark on the world stage," AJ Nicholson told the Jamaican Gleaner newspaper.
Christopher Tufton, the opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, said that if Mugabe had such a low opinion of Jamaicans he should be asked to hand back the Order of Jamaica conferred on him during a state visit to the island in 1996.
"I think that he should be called on to provide an explanation as to what he meant. It's inappropriate and rude. He should apologise to the Jamaican people," he said.
But others suggested that Mugabe's comments should prompt some soul-searching, pointing out that the island is the biggest producer of dagga in the Caribbean.