Pretoria: Britain rejected suggestions by South African President Thabo Mbeki that it had been seeking to cast doubt on security in Africa, saying on Monday it was not "part of a conspiracy to sabotage" the World Cup. "We are not part of any conspiracy to sabotage the World Cup or to portray South Africa as a dangerous place," said British High Commission spokesman Nick Sheppard in Pretoria. "We are surprised and disappointed at the tone and the nature of the accusation against us," Sheppard told the SAPA news agency.
Sheppard's reaction came after comments by Mbeki on Friday that Britain might have been seeking to "convey a global message of general African insecurity." Mbeki wrote in the ruling African National Congress' online publication, 'ANC Today', that "recently, we too have experienced treatment similar to that now being experienced by Zimbabwe and Kenya with regard to security matters." "Given what has now happened with regard to Zimbabwe and Kenya, it may very well be that the 'false' travel alerts about South Africa was intended to convey a global message of African insecurity," Mbeki wrote.
Britain's travel alert on December 21 warned citizens of a risk that they might be caught in terrorist attacks on tourists sites in South Africa. Sheppard said on Monday there was "no link whatsoever" between the December travel advice and the concerns of England cricket players over the security situation in Zimbabwe. "We are not seeking a sport boycott on Zim. We have said only that we would prefer the match to be played somewhere else," he said. "Our travel advice in December was purely about terrorist threats and possible attacks in South Africa."