South African businessman apologises for saying Africa loves Trump

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 09: Patrice Motsepe of the Motsepe Foundation speaks during the press conference for the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 at Sandton Convention Center on July 9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen)
FILE PHOTO: Patrice Motsepe of the Motsepe Foundation speaks at a past event. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

A South African businessman who faced heavy criticism for saying that Africa loves US President Donald Trump apologised for his remarks.

Patrice Motsepe, a mining tycoon, made the remarks at a private dinner hosted by Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier in January.

“Africa loves America, Africa loves you and it’s very important for America to do well. We want you to do well and the success of America is the success of the world,” Motsepe was quoted saying at the time.

The statement, which angered many people, particularly Africans, went viral with detractors telling him that he was not the spokesman for the continent.

South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had accused Motsepe of being driven by selfish business interests. It said his statement was an “insult to the African-Americans who have been directly affected by Trump’s racism”.

“I have a duty to listen to these differing views and would like to apologise. I do not have the right to speak on behalf of anybody except myself,” Motsepe said in a statement.

Motsepe went on to state that his comments were partly aimed at fostering discussions between the United States government and African political and business leaders.

“My remarks at the dinner with President Donald Trump were partly aimed at encouraging discussions between the Trump administration and African political and business leaders, particularly in the context of the increasing feedback from certain American political and business leaders that South Africa and some African countries are anti-America and its political leadership. This perception has had an impact on our ability to attract foreign investments and create jobs.”

He added that he will continue playing his part in building mutually beneficial socio-political, trade, investment and cultural ties between Africa and the United States.

“A successful, prosperous and growing Africa is good and beneficial not only to the 1.35-billion people living in Africa but for the world. Africa and America, to a very large extent, share common values and principles and have greater mutual interest than the issues or policies on which they disagree or have different views.