JOHANNESBURG – The report that U.S. President Donald Trump made crude, disparaging remarks about Nelson Mandela, South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize-winning former leader, has drawn an angry response from South Africa's ruling party and others.
According to a book written by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, Trump said that Mandela, who guided South Africa in its politically fraught transition from a racist apartheid government to a democracy, was a terrible leader.
Cohen wrote that after Mandela’s death in 2013, Trump said: “Mandela f---ed the whole country up. Now it’s a s---hole. F--- Mandela. He was no leader.”
Mandela, who won the Peace Prize in 1993 along with apartheid leader Frederik Willem de Klerk, is widely revered by all racial groups in South Africa. Internationally, he generally has a glowing reputation as a skilled statesman who avoided a nationwide bloodbath as the country abandoned apartheid.
The report about Trump's comments could also impact the U.S. presidential election in November in which Trump is seeking a second term in office, angering not only Black Americans but white voters who see Mandela as a peace icon.
South Africa's ruling African National Congress party said Tuesday that Trump is not fit to comment on Mandela's accomplishments.
“All freedom-loving people of the world are appalled by these insults, which come from a person who himself is not a model of competent leadership,” said the ANC statement, adding that Trump is the most “divisive, misogynistic and disrespectful person” ever to be president of the United States.
Mandela's dedication to “peace and a just society” stands in “stark contrast” to Trump's policies, said the ANC.