Patrice Motsepe, South Africa's only black billionaire and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's brother-in-law, has apologized for telling U.S. President Donald Trump “Africa loves you” during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week. A video of Motsepe’s remarks to Trump went viral on social media and sparked outrage from people who disagreed with Motsepe and with him speaking on Africans’ behalf.
In the video, Motsepe can be heard telling Trump during a group dinner: “Africa loves America. Africa loves you. It is very, very important. 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.” Trump responds to Motsepe: “You’ve done a great job, thank you very much.”
Trump has not endeared himself to the African continent, especially after calling African countries shithole countries in 2018 and after it emerged that last week he’s considering a proposal to extend travel restrictions to four African countries, including Nigeria.
Additionally, American supremacy has always planted itself firmly on the African continent. Motsepe’s comments drew criticism even amongst South African cabinet ministers, with Finance Minister Tito Mboweni saying the billionaire’s views did not represent those of the government. KwaZulu-Natal province premier Sihle Zikalala said Trump was not a friend of the ruling African National Congress party and that South Africa had nothing to benefit from the U.S. president.
In a statement released Tuesday, Motsepe said that the criticism over his remarks had exposed him to different views concerning the matter. "I have a duty to listen to these differing views and would like to apologize. I do not have the right to speak on behalf of anybody except myself," he said.
He added that his remarks were partly aimed at encouraging discussion between the Trump administration and African 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," Motsepe said. "This perception has had an impact on our ability to attract foreign investments and create jobs."
He went on to say, "Africa and America to a very large extent share common values and principles and have a 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."