Well-known academician and international affairs pundit Professor John Rapley says comments made by Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe about Jamaicans should not come as a shock.
According to the professor, who up to recently was a research associate at the International Growth Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science, it is not the first time that the Zimbabwean president has made unflattering comments about Jamaicans and Rastafarians, in particular.
And, although the government has not yet responded to Mugabe’s comments, Professor Rapley says he does not expect that the Zimbabwean president’s statement will be well-received by the Jamaican Government.
President Mugabe was quoted by the Zimbabwe radio station, Nehande Radio, during a lecture as saying that Jamaica is “a country of marijuana smokers, where women are now taking charge since men are always sloshed.”
The Zimbabwean president was quoted further as saying that while marijuana is illegal in Jamaica, citizens are free to smoke and that men are always drunk, while universities were full of women.
Zimbabwe has enjoyed diplomatic support from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations in the past, receiving much support from Michael Manley in 1979 during the Commonwealth Summit.
Artistes such as Sizzla have also shown support for the Zanu PF leader, performing during Mugabe’s 86th birthday celebrations in 2010; while Reggae icon Bob Marley also performed at Zimbabwe’s Independence celebrations in 1980.
Mugabe has also visited the Rastafarian community in Jamaica and was conferred with Jamaica’s fourth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica, in 1996 for his fight against apartheid.
But Mugabe’s relations with the Caribbean have waned over the years.
Following the 2008 election, which was fraught with allegations of corruption, CARICOM declared the ballot as "totally devoid of legitimacy" and called for Mugabe to work with the African Union and his South African neighbours for a negotiated outcome to the flawed process.