Dept describes anthem incident as unfortunate

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Director General Ayanda Ntsaluba has described the incident relating to the off-key rendition of South Africa's National Anthem, during a rugby match in France, as an "unfortunate mistake".

Ntsaluba said he hoped that the French government had learned something from the incident.

Durban-born reggae singer Ras Dumisani came under heavy criticism after he gave a off-key performance of the national anthem in some instances getting the words wrong.

Outraged over the incident, South African Rugby Union President Oregan Hoskins had written to the French rugby officials demanding an explanation. But it had appeared that the officials were not involved in selecting Dumisani as the singer.

The artist blamed his poor rendition of the national anthem on technical difficulties and an "old microphone".

"The matter was an unfortunate mistake and I'm sure the French government has learnt something from it," Ntsaluba said during a media briefing on Tuesday.

The department will be in charge of all the protocol-related services during the 2010 FIFA World Cup next year. Ntsaluba has assured FIFA that such mistakes as done by Dumisani will not occur during the tournament.

Meanwhile, Ntsaluba told reporters that government remained hopeful that a solution to the political impasse in both Zimbabwe and Madagascar could be found soon. He said all the parties involved in the Zimbabwean unity government had met last week as part of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Troika mandated dialogue.

On the alleged weakening relations between South Africa and Nigeria, Ntsaluba reiterated that the two countries remained key partners even though there were sometimes thorny issues relating to trade.

According to media reports, Nigeria had accused South Africa of benefiting from the SA business entering that country while alleging that SA was blocking Nigerians from doing business in the country.

"Nigeria remains our important partner and all you need to do is to look at our partnership at the level of African affairs and you will see," Ntsaluba said.