AP Photo/Denis Farrell
People walk their dogs outside the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Thursday, Dec. 27 2012. / AP Photo/Denis Farrell
President Jacob Zuma made critical remarks about pet care that touch on sensitive race relations in South Africa, which was dominated by whites until apartheid was dismantled almost two decades ago, The Star newspaper reported Thursday.
The newspaper cited Zuma as saying in a speech Wednesday that the idea of having a pet is part of “white culture” and that people should focus on family welfare.
The president’s office sought to clarify his remarks, saying he was encouraging “the previously oppressed African majority” to uphold its own culture. It also suggested the way in which the comments were reported, rather than the comments themselves, was divisive.
The president’s remarks triggered a flurry of retorts from animal lovers on Twitter and other social media.
“Will I become ‘more African’ if I kick my dog, President Zuma,” one person commented tartly.
Another lamented: “He keeps on dividing this country.”
And another humorist wrote: “Well, that pretty much rules out that photo opportunity with Zuma, the Obamas, & their pet dog, Bo, in the White House.”