Patrice Motsepe apologises for telling Donald Trump 'Africa loves you', but says it is wise to be cordial

28 January 2020 - 14:22 By Rethabile Radebe
In the statement released by the Motsepe Foundation, the businessman admitted he had no official right to speak on behalf of the continent.
In the statement released by the Motsepe Foundation, the businessman admitted he had no official right to speak on behalf of the continent.
Image: ROBERT TSHABALALA

Business mogul Patrice Motsepe has apologised for his remark about Africa loving US president Donald Trump, while explaining why being on good terms with America is beneficial to SA and the continent.

Motsepe told Trump at a World Economic Forum dinner in Davos, Switzerland, last week “Africa loves America. Africa loves you. It's 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.”

The EFF and others criticised Motsepe for this statement and were quick to remind Motsepe about Trump's comments when he said African countries were a sh*t hole.

On Tuesday, in a statement released by the Motsepe Foundation, the businessman admitted he had no official right to speak on behalf of the continent.

"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."

Motsepe explained that his remarks were aimed at creating a dialogue between Trump's administration and Africa's political and business leaders. 

He said he wanted to dispel continued misconceptions that he had heard from a number of US politicians and business people that South Africa, along with other African countries, are anti-America and Trump's leadership, which has a negative impact on South Africa's chances of securing foreign investment.

The businessman advised that in order for South Africa to create jobs and secure foreign investment, it had to have cordial relations with other countries.

"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."

South Africa is the biggest beneficiary of the US legislation, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows duty-free exports of more than 6, 500 goods from Africa to the US.  

This is according to Virginia Blaser, the US consul-general, in a message to business people in Cape Town in August last year. 

Blaser said Agoa had helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs and economic opportunities across the continent.

"This is particularly true in the Western Cape as 18 of the province’s 25 top exports to the US are exported duty-free."

Such exports included wine, citrus, jewellery, engine parts,  boats, seafood and leather goods," she said.

IN FULL: PATRICE MOTSEPE'S STATEMENT

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 eight 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.


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