Statement of the South African Embassy, Paris, France, on the Debacle regarding the National Anthem

Paris - The South African Embassy in Paris, France, has taken note with concern of media reports over the weekend that it was the Embassy in Paris that recommended a singer to render the National Anthem at the rugby match between South Africa and France on Friday, 13 November 2009. The Embassy shares the disappointment of all South Africans on the performance of the singer in his rendition of the National Anthem. The South African Embassy, as the Government’s representative in France, will always take the necessary steps to protect and promote our country’s national symbols.

On 4 September 2009, the French Rugby Union in Paris approached the South African Embassy in Paris for names of singers residing in France who could be contacted to sing the national anthem. The South African Embassy does indeed keep a list of South Africans residing in France and regularly provides relevant information to French interlocutors as may be appropriate. In all cases, the Embassy merely provides information but is often not in a position to vouch for the bona fides, credentials or competency of any of the parties. In this case, the embassy had only one name of a South African singer in France and the Embassy provided the name of his agent in France to the French Rugby Union. This was not a recommendation from the embassy since the embassy had no previous exposure to his performances nor is he a renowned performer.

During a meeting of 8 September 2009 with officials from the Midi-Pyrenees Rugby Union in Toulouse a request was made to the Embassy to suggest a South African singer residing in France to render the National Anthem during the match. Since this was not an embassy event the embassy maintained that it was not in a position to provide, source or recommend any artists and that they discuss this matter with the South African Rugby Union. The Embassy further undertook to inform them of any South African singers who might be touring France during this period. There was unfortunately no South African artist touring France during this period.

The Embassy had no subsequent dealings with any of the parties and rejects all claims that the embassy chose or imposed the singer. This was entirely the responsibility of the hosts. 

The Embassy also took note of another incident involving its national symbols at the rugby match. In this case the South African Flag was hung the wrong way. South African diplomats attending the game immediately brought this to the attention of the French authorities but unfortunately, the French authorities indicated that it was too late to correct this.

The Embassy affirms that it was not responsible for sourcing, providing or recommending a singer to render the national anthem at the rugby match, and similarly, at any non-government event(s) held in France.

For more information contact Chief Director for Public Diplomacy, Saul Kgomotso Molobi on 082 940 1647.  

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag x152
Pretoria, 0001
16 November 2009


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