South African billionaire and philanthropist Patrice Motsepe has apologised for telling US President Donald Trump that Africa loved him at a World Economic Forum media briefing last week.
Motsepe introduced himself to Trump, detailing some of his accolades. He then went on to say: “…And all we wanted to say is that Africa loves America, Africa loves you. We want America to do well, we want you to do well. The success of America is the success of the rest of the world.”
South Africans took to Twitter to express their disapproval of the statement, saying Motsepe did not and could not speak for the whole continent.
Motsepe has now released an apology through his Motsepe Foundation on Tuesday, saying he had no right to speak on behalf of anyone but himself.
Read the full statement below.
I’m aware of the lively, diverse and at times emotional debate in the global media and on social media relating to my remarks to President Donald Trump at the dinner in Davos during the World Economic Forum.
The debate also exposed me to the views of Africans who disagreed with my remarks. 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.
As a global philanthropist and business leader, I have for many decades, in South Africa and on the African continent, worked to bring together and unite people of different races, ethnic groups and members of different religious and faith-based organisations. I’ve worked with political, business, societal and other leaders whose views and policies I do not share and will continue to do so in Africa and globally.
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.
Africa’s current population is 1.35 billion and it has the fastest growing youth (aged between 15 and 24) and total population in the world.
The unemployment rate in the 8 largest African economies measured by GDP is approximately 18%. South Africa which has the most industrialised and diverse economy in Africa has an unemployment rate of 29.1% and a youth (aged between 15 and 24) unemployment rate of 51%.
Africa has to create approximately 8 million new jobs for the youth every year and South Africa has to create in excess of 500 000 new jobs for the youth each year.
In order to do this and to provide skills and expertise and improve the living conditions and standards of living of millions of Africans, Africa will have to create partnerships and increase trade and investment ties between Africa and America and between Africa and other parts of the world.
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.
It is in the interest of South Africa and the rest of the African continent to build mutually beneficial socio-political, trade, investment and cultural ties between the economies and people of Africa and America and Africa and the world.
I am committed to continue making a humble contribution in this regard.