Mining mogul Patrice Motsepe has apologised for a remark he made at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, where he told US President Donald Trump at a dinner that “Africa loves America”.
“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,” Motsepe was captured on video telling Trump, News24 reported.
His utterances ruffled some feathers locally.
In a statement his foundation issued on Tuesday, Motsepe said he was 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”.
Motsepe said the debate also exposed him to the views of Africans who disagreed with his 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.”
Motsepe said his remarks at the dinner 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 were anti-America and its political leadership.
This perception has had an impact on the ability to attract foreign investments and create jobs, Motsepe contended.
“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%.”
‘A prosperous Africa is good for the world’
Motsepe said Africa has to create approximately eight million new jobs for the youth every year and South Africa has to create in excess of 500 000 new jobs for young people 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,” Motsepe said.
“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.”
According to Motsepe, Africa and America share common values and principles and have greater mutual interest than the issues or policies on which they disagree or have different views.
He said it was 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 said.
– Compiled by Riaan Grobler
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