South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki has recalled the racism he experienced during an official visit to Sweden in 2000, as he raised concern about the growth of the far-right in Europe, the Mail & Guardian newspaper has reported.
“We are very close to the coast, right up north, so the then-Prime Minister of Denmark [Poul Nyrup Rasmussen] says, ‘Let’s take a walk to the sea’, which we did.
“As we are walking, I could see – through the corner of [my] eye – I could see somebody coming to join the group. I wasn’t paying much attention.
“A man came into the group, came right up to me, and says, ‘Black man, go home,’” Mr Mbeki was quoted as saying during an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the foreign policy think tank, The Institute for Global Dialogue, in the capital, Pretoria.
“That was many years ago. But that was a signal of what was coming. That tendency has grown, so now even countries like Sweden have got a big Swedish Democrats party – that’s what it calls itself – [which is] very right wing, anti-migration, racist.”
“What does that mean for us? What is its implication in terms of our relations with all of these countries in Europe who are our biggest trading partners, together?” Mr Mbeki added.
Mr Mbeki, who was president from 1999 to 2008, also said that South Africa lacked a foreign policy when it came to Africa.
“Let’s take just the security element on the continent. I don’t know what, as a country, we are doing to address that matter. I really don’t know what our policy positions are about that matter,” he added.