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'Zuma's dog comment meant to start debate'

The presidency says Jacob Zuma’s comments on dogs are not meant to incite anger.

The presidency says Jacob Zuma’s comments on dogs are not meant to incite anger.

JOHANNESBURG - The presidency on Friday defended President Jacob Zuma's comments on caring for dogs as being part of white culture, saying the remarks were aimed at "decolonising the African mind".

On Wednesday, _The Mercury _newspaper quoted Zuma as saying that spending money to buy a dog and taking it to the vet and for walks was part of white culture.

Zuma was giving a speech at Impendle in KwaZulu-Natal.

This created a stir on social network Twitter on Thursday.

Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the comments were meant to start a debate on reconciliation.

"The president's core message was to put the issue as a debate because we need to deconstruct and decolonise the mind as part of promoting reconciliation, national building, unity and social cohesion."

The ANC parliamentary caucus slammed the media for trivialising comments.

The president further said there was a generation of people trying to emulate whiteness and criticised people who straightened their hair and whiten their skin.

The ANC chief whip's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the media focused on the analogy rather than the content of Zuma's speech.

"In this debate, it will seem that propaganda prejudice and hyperbole won the day. The perfect opportunity to focus on our real issues and debate was lost."