Gender Minister Olivia Grange (right); and Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, (second right), listen as South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr. Grace Pandor, addresses students and officials of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), during a visit to the centre’s headquarters in Kingston on Thursday (March 21). Also at the head table is Chair, WCJF Board of Directors, Debby-Ann Brown Salmon. (Photo: Dave Reid/JIS)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, is denying claims on social media that she deliberately walked out of a lecture at the University of the West Indies on Thursday evening to evade a question from a Palestinian-Jamaican.

Tauna Thomas has the details.

The lecture was headlined by South Africa’s foreign affairs minister, Naledi Pandor, who was speaking at the time Minister Johnson Smith left the room.

A 20-second clip of her leaving the lecture while Minister Pandor was speaking is circulating on social media.

Some social media users raised questions about the optics of the clip, while others said clarity was needed.

Minister Johnson Smith posted on X Friday morning. She called the video an unfortunate misrepresentation of the circumstances at the lecture event.

She says the event with Minister Pandor was scheduled to end at 8 pm. According to Minister Johnson Smith, she was due to attend a meeting of CARICOM to discuss the ongoing security situation in Haiti.

The minister says she advised Minister Pandor and the moderator that she needed to leave for the Haiti meeting. She says she waited until 8:15pm, 15 minutes beyond the scheduled completion of the lecture, but then had to go.

Minister Johnson Smith says people heard her advise that she had a meeting and saw the moderator signal for her to leave.

The minister says it’s unfortunate that an inaccurate narrative would be pushed on social media when such rich discussions were held at the event.

Minister Johnson Smith says in a perfect world, maybe the moderator could’ve emphasised her prior indication and reason for departure.

She further notes that the Permanent Secretary and Chief Technical Director from her Ministry remained at the lecture to respond to any questions.

The minister says she was advised that no questions were asked.