South Africa’s governing African National Congress has called US President Donald Trump “divisive, misogynistic and disrespectful” in response to reports that he was dismissive about Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president.
Trump said the Nobel Peace Prize winner was “no leader”, according to his former lawyer Michael Cohen.
The allegation comes from Cohen’s new book, Disloyal: A Memoir. The White House says Cohen is lying.
His book also says Trump behaves like a mobster and has “a low opinion of all black people”.
In a scathing response, the ANC, which Mandela led from 1991 to 1997, said that “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”.
“Trump is [the most] divisive, misogynistic and disrespectful person ever to occupy the office of the president,” it added.
In contrast, Mandela had stood as a unifying leader, who “reached out to the world and sought to bring peace and a just society”, the ANC said.
Nobel Peace Prize winner
Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years for his fight against apartheid, negotiated with the white-minority government to ensure a non-violent transition to democratic rule in 1994.
In 1993, he won the Nobel prize alongside former South African President FW de Klerk, the man he negotiated with, for their efforts in securing a “peaceful termination of the apartheid regime”.
Apartheid was a legalised system of discrimination against people who were not white, and had been introduced in South Africa in 1948.
Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and stepped down in 1999. He died in 2013 aged 95.
Earlier, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said it did not believe that “leaders who conduct themselves in the way Trump does are in a position to offer authoritative commentary on the life and work of Madiba [Mandela]”.
As well as criticising Mandela, the US president is reported by Cohen to have said: “Tell me one country run by a black person that isn’t a shithole. They are all complete [expletive] toilets.”
The words echo similar allegations, from 2018, that Trump referred to African countries as “shithole” nations.
Back then, Trump told reporters: “I am not a racist. I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
Responding to Cohen’s book, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany at the weekend described him as “a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress”.
“He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies,” she said.