Billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe has apologised for some of his remarks to United States (US) President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, last week.
Motsepe caused a social media furore when he told Trump, “All we wanted to say is that Africa loves America; Africa loves you. We want Americans to do well. We want you to do well. The success of America is the success of the world.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals said he was “aware of the lively, diverse and at times emotional debate” on his comments.
‘I do not have the right’
Motsepe added, “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.”
Nevertheless, South Africa’s third richest man said his remarks to Trump were partly aimed at “encouraging discussions between the Trump Administration and African political and business leaders.”
He cited the high unemployment rates in South Africa and Africa, adding that in order to address the challenge, the continent will have to establish partnerships with the rest of the world, including the US.
‘US, Africa share common values’
Motsepe said the US and Africa share common values and principles and that mutual interest outweighs their differences.
He added, “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,” Motsepe concluded.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was among those who came to Motsepe’s defence in the wake of the controversy.
Addressing a post-WEF media briefing in Davos last week, Mboweni said, Motsepe was within his rights to express his views to Trump, adding, “As South Africans, we are a democratic society. We don’t determine for people to say whatever they want to say.
“He was very clear he was not speaking on behalf of the South African government. He doesn’t have that kind of arrogance to speak on behalf of the South African government.”